May days, pray days
By Sammy Jordan Project Lead Hope for Every Home
What does the month of May mean to you? Maypoles? May Day bank holidays? Gathering nuts?
Sammy invites us to add praying through May to the list!
What does the month of May mean to you? The bonus of a long bank holiday weekend? Maybe (no pun intended) the tradition of maypole dancing which isn’t as rare as it might seem, now that it appears on the National Curriculum in infant schools! Perhaps May takes you back to childhood nursery rhymes and the idea of ‘gathering nuts in May on a cold and frosty morning’. I think many of us hope the weather in May will be markedly better!
If you’re a gardener like me, then May might be about blossoms and planting ready for a summer bloom. When I was growing up in Manchester my mum would always tell me to, ‘N’er cast a clout till May is out.’ Clearly from the ‘cold and frosty morning’ club she struggled to restrain my enthusiasm for getting my summer dresses out! More recently May half term was, for me, the time I ran an annual holiday club for 150 children, so the bank holidays passed me by in a whirl of preparation and den building!
Recently I’ve noticed a new May ‘thing’… it’s not established enough yet to call it a tradition but I think it would be a good one: Pray Through May. I’ve come across several churches, organisations, towns and cities, which are encouraging people to ‘Pray Through May’ and I’ve been pondering why? The rhyme helps make the phrase memorable and I wonder if the weather does too. The changing of the seasons has brought a surge in the use of the OIKOS prayer app Hope for Every Home : The Prayer App Prayer walking isn’t very appealing in the middle of winter, but when spring literally puts a spring in our step, well…unless maybe it really is a ‘cold and frosty morning’!
The invitation of pray through May seems to be to use the opportunity of better weather and being outdoors to pray for local communities. My sense is that during Covid God took his church out of the building, reconnected us with our communities as we clapped on doorsteps and did shopping for neighbours, and mobilised us through the daily walk. Many of us walked and generally explored our local communities more than ever before. Once mobilised, it was a small step to turn our daily walk into a prayer walk.
I have the privilege of talking to people from across the UK and sometimes this means I notice things; I spot patterns and join dots. A growth in prayer walking over the last year would be one such pattern, as would a shift towards the ‘little and local’; a rise in locally-rooted, ground up initiatives instead of centralised top-down ones. Pray through May seems to be part of this, as I notice that this invitation is being extended by individual churches as well as national organisations. However, even when extended by a national organisation the focus seems to be local.
Youth for Christ is one national organisation who are encouraging people to, ‘Pray Through May’ with a focus on young people in our local communities. Pray Through May aims to ‘lift young people to God in prayer, that they might discover the fullness of life that Jesus offers’. Each day YfC will publish daily prompt words to encourage people to pray for young people. To find out more and even sign up go to Pray through May - Youth for Christ (yfc.co.uk)
The end of May and half term holiday takes on added significance this year with the celebrations and extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Is your street having a party? After two years of Covid I think there is much appetite for a party so hopefully the weather will be kind to us with no, ‘cold and frosty mornings’ in sight. Street parties are a great opportunity to get to know our neighbours and build relationships, which then inform prayers for our local area. I’ll be inviting people to, ‘Pray as you Party’. If every street party lead to a prayer for the street it is on imagine the impact on our vision to pray for the people in every street in the UK.
If you need some ideas or pointers in party planning, check out our website www.theplatinumjubilee.chttp://www.theplatinumjubilee.comom HOPE has been working with a range of partners to create a one-stop-shop for all your Platinum Jubilee resources; everything from party planners, songs, and books; to school assemblies, service plans and acts of service. Invitations often work best when we have something attractive to give to people and that’s why we’ve produced, ‘Our Faithful Queen’ for adults, the story of the Queen’s life and faith’ and ‘The Girl Who Grew Up To Be Queen’ for younger children. Both books are glossy, colourful and make faith accessible to an audience which wants to know more about the Queen’s life and faith.
If the Platinum Jubilee leads to conversations of course there’s still the latest HOPE for All magazine to offer, which picks up on the Queen’s celebration but then looks to the hopefully warm summer beyond; no cold and frosty mornings in sight. It offers a great mix of celebrity features, articles and prizes. HOPE shop : Hope for All Magazine 2022 (hopetogether.org.uk)