Watching and praying for a better world

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A prayer vigil - a time dedicated to expectant listening and communication with God.

To people who don't have a faith, the significance of a vigil can feel like a bit of a mystery. Why would someone choose to sit or stand for sometimes extended periods of time, often in silence?

But as Christians, the importance of this practice brings us back to The Bible. The Bible repeatedly tells us about the power of prayer (Matthew 17:21, Acts 1:14, Ephesians 6:18-19), and Jesus himself gives the instruction several times to "watch and pray".

The most notable occasion being the night before his crucifixion, in the Garden of Gethsemane. When Jesus is about to face his biggest hardship, he prays and asks his disciples to keep watch with him. When Jesus sees that his disciples have not done this, and have instead fallen asleep, he is saddened.

As the world becomes an increasingly difficult place, the challenge of spreading the good news becomes harder. As the climate crisis wraps our brothers and sisters around the world into increasing desperate life conditions, it can be difficult for people to see God through the suffering.

This was never made clearer to me than when a woman in a region devastated by drought asked me why God hated her. The pain in her face was evident. But it was not God causing her suffering, but the greed of those humans set on creating an increasingly hostile world.

The UK is also starting to feel the effects of environmental breakdown. The frequency of storms hitting our shores have increased, and still a gas-fuelled cost-of-living crisis is squeezing people's budgets further than ever before, with some having to choose between eating or heating.

It's easy to feel helpless, when corruption and lies are something we come to expect from our leaders and multinationals seem largely to be unaccountable and to function above the law. But as disciples of Jesus, our instruction remains the same - "watch and pray". Only then can we truly participate in the renewal of God's creation and the bringing of the Kingdom.

So this Lent, we have been leaning on our most ancient of traditions - prayer. The No Faith In Fossil Fuels Vigil is taking place from the 14th to the 24th Feb 2024. Christians from across the UK are coming together to sit in prayerful reflection outside the gates of power - parliament in Westminster. A whole host of organisations are involved in this: Christian Aid, Tearfund, CAFOD, The Salvation Army, JPIT, Student Christian Movement, A Rocha, Green Christian, Operation Noah and more.

Bishops have been involved, MPs have been involved, churches, small groups and more. And there's still time for you to join in. Stay for an hour or a day. If you believe in the power of prayer, join us in prophetically reimagining this world into something beautiful.