A global prayer movement, characterised by mass public gatherings and worship, has been radically revamped due to Covid-19.
Thy Kingdom Come has been tailored to enable churches, families and individuals to pray and worship in their homes, through a suite of adapted resources, in line with social distancing guidelines.
Now in its fifth year, the movement began as a call to prayer for evangelisation within the Anglican Communion in the period from Ascension to Pentecost, but now draws thousands of Christians together, across different denominations and traditions, to pray for their friends, family and neighbours to come to know the love of Jesus.
For the first time this year, Christians are not only encouraged to pray for others to know the love of Christ, but to also practically demonstrate their love and care through action during the 11 days, an initiative called ‘Prayer and Care.’
In addition to this, the campaign has also developed several new ‘Thy Kingdom Come despite Lockdown’ resources to equip people to worship at home.
For churches, there is an Upper Room resource – a virtual prayer room where churches can take part in continuous prayer alongside international prayer organisation – 24/7 prayer. Inspired by the upper room experience in the book of Acts, where the early disciples gathered to pray, this timely resource encourages churches to go deeper in continuous prayer drawing on the richness of this historic tradition.
All key resources are available as digital downloads on the TKC website. This includes a Prayer Journal with Bible readings, reflections and care actions. It features the ‘Father’s Love’ illustration from renowned artist Charlie Mackesy on the cover. The Journey with Mary devotional is also available with an accompanying podcast series.
For families, the Digital Family Prayer Adventure Map will aid children and young people explore prayer in a fun way.
The map is full of activities based on the daily themes of Thy Kingdom Come and comes to life through an augmented reality app with bonus digital content. This includes Bible story animations and video reflections from well-known Christians including Archbishop Justin Welby, CBeebies’ presenter Gemma Hunt, Guvna B, Eye Can Talk author Jonathan Bryan, Author of the Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd Jones and Storyteller Philip Glassborow.
The printed map was originally intended to be distributed to half a million key stage 2 children across Church schools in England and Wales.
A version was created so families could print the resource at home. There is also an accompanying podcast series and journal.
The campaign will also relaunch its award-winning app which will enable anyone with a smartphone to access the content and journey through the 11 days of prayer. The app has been translated into eight languages and last year was downloaded in almost 100 countries worldwide.
In a video message, filmed in his kitchen, Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on this year’s changes due to COVID-19. He said:
‘It seems we are having to reinvent everything this year. Thy Kingdom Come, which is normally a time of gathering and of being together, is now to be done at home. Well, praise God. That’s where the church began -in people’s homes, in people’s houses and where in many parts of the world it still happens.
And in an encouragement to all, he said:
‘Let us regain our confidence as we pray between Ascension and Pentecost this year, praying for the coming of the Spirit that all may know that Jesus Christ is risen, that Jesus Christ is Lord, And in His life and love, there is hope and peace, and call and purpose. May God bless you in your times of prayer, may you know His living presence in your home. Amen.’
On the importance of prayer at this time, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said:
“Prayer knows no boundaries or obstacles. Prayer cannot be ‘locked down’. Lord, send us your Holy Spirit and the freedom that is the Spirit’s gift.”
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who started the movement with Archbishop Justin, said:
‘As we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’– for the fifth year as a nationwide and now worldwide season of prayer for people to come to a living faith in Jesus Christ, again I am bringing my ‘five’ to God – the five for whom I am praying that they will know the abundant life that is in Jesus Christ. It has been a joy each year to see friends encountering Jesus Christ and beginning a new life.
‘This year because of COVID-19 so many people are searching for meaning and hope, as well as discovering afresh the importance of real, self-sacrificial love. May the Holy Spirit equip us all to share that love, and to speak of Jesus Christ, and of the love of God our Father. Come, Holy Spirit!’
Last year, the prayer movement culminated into a moment of celebration at Trafalgar Square where thousands of Christians gathered. The presidents of Churches Together in England (CTE), led prayers on the day including His Eminence, Archbishop Angaelos, CTE President of the Orthodox Churches. He said:
‘Since the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the women who ministered to our Lord, in the Upper Room, the Church has been built on a spirit of fellowship and prayerful collaboration. There is no stronger place for us to be than “in one place with one accord” (Acts 2:1), and so too, as we share in this Thy Kingdom Come initiative, we stand together waiting the continued inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and His empowerment to always preach the message of hope and Life to our world.’
CTE’s Pentecostal Churches President, Pastor Agu Irukwu, said:
‘At no time in living memory has the Church needed to pray as much as it does now, as we grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am particularly grateful for the role ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer movement plays in mobilising the Church to prayer.’
Free Churches President of Churches Together in England, Dr Hugh Osgood, said:
‘Thy Kingdom Come is such a powerful movement for preparing the Church for its mission, and it’s exciting to know that this year too, from Ascension to Pentecost, prayer will be stirred up right across the Church in all its diversity. I look forward to there being even wider participation in Thy Kingdom Come 2020.’
Methodist Youth President, Thelma Commey, who authored this year’s Methodist Prayer Journal, said:
’I am really looking forward to being a part of this ecumenical movement. Although it is virtual, and we can’t gather together as we might wish, I believe that the Holy Spirit will guide us all and empower us through this journey of prayer together.’
Churches across the UK and beyond, who would normally be gearing up to organise special services and events are now finding innovative ways of adapting.
Different denominations are also getting ready to be involved including the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Catholic Church of England and Wales and the Church of Scotland.
Various countries worldwide are making preparation to take part in Thy Kingdom Come, in line with respective government guidance on social distancing. This includes South Africa, Canada, Australia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Korea, Argentina, Brazil and South Sudan to name a few.