Calls for prayer ahead of general election

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Church of England bishops are inviting the nation to pray and participate in the upcoming general election, which takes place on 4 July.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, are urging people to set aside time to pray but are also appealing for campaigning to be marked by "respect", "good grace" and "a commitment to truth and integrity".

A new campaign called #PrayYourPart has been launched by the Church of England ahead of polling day, encouraging people to get involved in the elections. 

The campaign includes a set of daily reflections written by Church of England bishops and drawing from the Bible. These will be available in a booklet, app and audio form, as well as through social media and emails.

The Archbishops said: "The coming general election is a critical moment in the life of our nation, which will shape our future by electing those who will make decisions affecting generations to come.

"It is a time for us all – people of all faiths and of none - to ask important questions about what kind of country we want to be.

"We are facing epic challenges both in our country and our world: from questions of war and peace, to poverty and injustice and very future of the Earth God has given us.

"Faced with such huge questions, our instinct as Christians is to turn to God in prayer and so we want to put prayer at the very heart of this campaign."

They continued, "It is our prayer that, even in the heat of the debate, we will treat each other with respect and kindness.

"And we give thanks for the dedication of all who stand for public office in service of our communities – often at great personal cost - and those who support the process."

Christian charity CARE has launched a new website to help Christians engage with the elections and think through their policy priorities. 

The website features a prayer journal, policy primers and interviews with Christian MPs, including Miriam Cates and Tim Farron.

"Over the next six weeks, the political parties will be setting out their key election messages and publishing their manifestos," said CARE CEO Ross Hendry.

"This is a huge opportunity for Christians to be salt and light by engaging with this election. What an immense opportunity, and what a privilege it is to live in a democracy." 

He added, "As we read in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: 'I want people everywhere to pray for Kings and all those in authority ...'

"What a joy it is to know that over all of our politics, Jesus is King. Let's pray that God raises up new Christian MPs who will be salt and light across Westminster."