Collect, Readings, Sermon for the Sunday after Ascension plus Prayer resources.

Sunday School


Risen, ascended Lord, as we rejoice at your triumph, fill your Church on earth with power and compassion, that all you are estranged by sin may find forgiveness and know your peace, to the glory of God the Father.



Acts 1:6-14
1 Peter 4:12-14; 1 Peter 5:6-11
John 17:1-11


#JustPray – Mother Katie

And they were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…

Jesus goes and the disciples are left alone and waiting – and in the waiting they pray. I’d like to think they would have done this even now – surrounded by the temptations of TV, social media, telephones, internet shopping, good books and a sunny garden to sit in. But I expect it might have been harder as we’ve become experts at distracting ourselves from what is important and escaping the real needs of our world and ourselves.

Nevertheless this is the behaviour the disciples choose after the Ascension. They shut themselves away and they pray. And in that they set us an example.

They have experienced a complete break in their normal routine; everything they knew and thought they knew has been turned upside down; they have been through trauma, through anxiety and grief – guilt and failure; through hope and resurrection and now they face the complex liberation of loss and letting go.

And they were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…

And perhaps partly because of their prayer – the wait is full – and the freedom offered at the end fuller still. For this is not empty time – but pregnant time – full of unseen promise. It is wise to nurture it well.

Perhaps it is not surprising then that prayer has been one of the most googled topics in lockdown. People are instinctively looking to pray – the temptations of our time not quite satisfying the present need – or scratching the itch hard enough. And this is not surprising, the root of the word prayer comes from the Latin precarious – it is literally the language we use when life is precarious. And those that would never step foot inside a church have found themselves watching services online and seeking ways to pray.

And so this week I’ve been asking our WhatsApp group and Facebook what prayer is to them. I’ve had some fascinating answers and I think they are worth sharing – worth sitting with – worth praying over.

Prayer they have shared is: a form of meditation; the place to quieten the mind; a chat with God; the last extremity of hope; being aware of God in ourselves and others; a gift from God; talking to my best friend; connection with the divine; listening; the scaffolding that enables me to become what God intended; like air I breathe; the choreography for the dance of life; God’s mobile phone; becoming conscious of God; for the glory of God; response to God’s living word; part of worship; being with God and dwelling in his presence; seeing through the eyes of God; becoming who I am; remembering I am not the centre and placing myself in relation to the centre; need and longing; music; a community activity as well as a personal practice; knowing we are together and loved; guidance; awareness; communication; offering ourselves; being prompted by the Spirit; divine life stirring within us; the key; trust; strength; peace; patience; gratitude; stillness; mindfulness; a hug; change; alignment; fellowship; place of deliverance and restoration; where God abides; time with our Father; walking with God; raising our consciousness; joining ‘the force’; having an epiphany; being aware that we are part of the earth; union; a place to be known and loved; a place to cry, shout and laugh; transformation; spending time in God’s presence and with our own thoughts; letting God in and God letting us in.

Good aren’t they? Doesn’t it encourage you to pray? This (and more) is on offer when we sit down to pray. I wonder which one resonates most with you? And what role prayer has had for you in lockdown?

Waiting and praying have been such an important part of developing spiritual character in every tradition and every time.

Jesus begins his own ministry with 40 days waiting and praying in the wilderness. In the Old Testament Moses waits 40 years in the wilderness before God uses him to set His people free; Joseph waits over ten years in the darkness of prison before he is able to rule and save his people from famine; Abraham has to wait 25 years before the promised son arrives; Jacob waits 14 years for his wife Rachel; Jonah waits 3 days in the belly of the whale; Noah waits 150 days before the flood subsides; David waits nearly 15 years between being anointed as King and actually becoming King; and the disciples wait 9 days between Ascension and Pentecost.

Whether our waiting is short or long it seems that waiting has divine purpose in formation: it reveals who we are; it builds patience; it transforms our character and creates intimacy and trust in God.

It takes 6 years to train to be a stipendiary priest (a vicar) – that is a lot of waiting before they let you have your own parish – and it is not a day too long. For in the waiting lies the wisdom. And much of the wisdom is born of prayer and the serious task of being made to sit in sometimes uncomfortable places and listen.

I’ve found lockdown to be very similar to the time of formation whilst training as a priest – it is a time of waiting and praying when we are not in control. The government will decide when we can open the doors again; the virus and the R rate will dictate our actions and freedoms for much of the next year and sometimes it can feel lonely – there is something about waiting that is always an individual task even if we wait with others – and it can be frustrating and confusing and hard. We are having to humble ourselves. But as we wait – and learn – then we are changed.

Lockdown like waiting is a time of revealing – showing us who we are – and who others are. Some of that is beautiful and generous and good. Some of it reveals darker sides that perhaps need to be faced and confronted. It is a time that requires patience with ourselves and others – as we learn to live in the spotlight of now without any of the usual distractions, comforts, controls or assurances about the future on which we normally rely. It is a time when we need to learn to be grateful for what is rather than always striving for more or that which we do not have. A time to generously name the good – to give thanks – and not let the smallest blessing go unnoticed. It is a time of transformation – my hair is currently testimony to this! But in less obvious ways I can see how God is transforming me as a disciple and leader too and I feel the excitement of a vision being created for our church that longs to be born. More about that soon. And in all of this we learn to lean on God – and talk to him in precarious times – in short we pray and in the praying we grow and become more of who God calls us to be – both individually and as a church.

In the next 9 days I encourage you to put aside extra time to pray and study scripture too. I attach some resources which I think are helpful but don’t feel obliged to use them – there are just there if you want them – you might find your own way to study and pray in this time. The important thing is to take the time – these 9 days are known as a novena – time specifically given to prayer and for which the Church of England produces Thy Kingdom Come resources. Do look at these if you can. And if you are able join us for prayer at 5pm Sunday-Thursday on Facebook and from next week Sundays 10.30 am and 6.30pm on Zoom it would be great to ‘see’ you.

At 10.30 next week (May 30th) I shall preside at the Eucharist in church for the first time – it will be Pentecost – our first Eucharistic service together again inside the church (at least virtually) and my prayer is that it will be a Holy Spirit moment for us all – powerful and transformative. Please join me in praying for next Sunday – and let’s wait in gratitude for all that is, and hopeful expectation for all that is to come.

And when this is over and we look back on this time of lockdown let them say of us that they were constantly devoting themselves to prayer.


My recommended books on Prayer and Waiting for use during Ascensiontide

Easy Reads

How to Pray – Pete Greig
Help, Thanks, Wow – Anne Lamott
Breath of the Soul – Joan Chittister
The Lord and His Prayer – Tom Wright
Time to Pray – Church of England
Daily Prayer – Padraig O Tuama

Going Deeper

The Stature of Waiting – W H Vanstone
Into Your Hands – Andrew Clitherow
The Grace of Waiting – Margaret Whipp
Dancing Standing Still – Richard Rohr
The Wilderness Within – Nicholas Buxton
Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit – Thomas Keating
Contemplative Prayer – Thomas Merton
Pray Your Way – Bruce Duncan
The Solace of Fierce Landscapes – Beldon Lane

Recommended websites and resources

Thy Kingdom Come Global

Thy Kingdom Come Southwark

Daily Hope Phoneline

Church of England Daily Prayer

Bible Passages about Prayer


Bible study tools

Daily verses

Suggested Prayers for your use

Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life

Prayer of St Patrick

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

Prayer of St Augustine of Hippo

O Holy Spirit, Love of God,
pour out your grace,
and descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling,
and scatter there your cheerful beams.
Dwell in that soul that longs to be your temple.
Water that barren soil, overrun with weeds and briars,
and lost for lack of cultivating,
and make it fruitful with your dew from heaven.
Come, refreshment of those who languish and faint.
Come, Star and Guide of those who sail in the tempestuous sea of the world. You are the only Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked.
Come, Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying.
Come, Holy Spirit, in your great mercy, and make me fit to receive you.

Prayer of St Teresa Of Avila

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Images of prayer as prayer prompts – like modern icons

Quotes about Prayer

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” Max Lucado

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Corrie ten Boom

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” Soren Kierkegaard

“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.” Mother Teresa

“A day without prayer is a day without blessing, and a life without prayer is a life without power.” Edwin Harvey

“Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” Alice Walker

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” Ghandi

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou

“To pray well is the better half of study.” Martin Luther King

“Prayer is the way that God enlists us in doing with Him what He is already going to do.” Jimmy Davis,

“Before you pray, forgive.” William Arthur Ward

“To sing is to pray twice.” St Augustine

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Prayer for Children