Professional footballers and others connected to the beautiful game did something significant last weekend that clergymen and clergywomen are more often known for – although not always – we are only human after all!
Following the brain haemorrhage of Sir Alex Ferguson, players like Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs along with managers like Klopp and Wenger were being reported on the front pages of the newspapers and in lead items on the TV news sending their thoughts and prayers.
Every single one of these sportsmen made it clear that they were praying for Sir Alex’s health and for his family. It was a natural response and as far as I am aware was not questioned by any reporter.
Footballers led the way in reminding the country to pray for others when they are in need. We join them in hoping and praying Sir Alex continues to recover from this serious condition.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and all the churches in England and Wales and many international churches as well, have asked people to pray during the 10 days from today, May 10 to Sunday May 20.
I suppose it is good news that churches asking people to pray is not headline news; that is viewed as the normal rather than unusual. Surely this is what the church does all the time anyway?
The answer is of course, yes. Thursday the 10th is Ascension Day, the last day that the first disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, when he showed them he was the link between earth and heaven.
Sunday, May 20 is Pentecost, when they received the Holy Spirit and were given the confidence to go out into the world filled with the power of God.
These 10 days are therefore a time to pray to gain a similar experience and for others to do so too. The simplest challenge is to pray for five people, using the fingers of a hand to act as an aide memoire. I even look for personalities to match them!
Larger than life for my thumb; active for the forefinger; then a central figure for the middle; a close family member for the ring and someone who gets overlooked for the little finger.
The footballers made it clear, praying is natural and part of who we are, praying for someone in need should be instinctive. How about giving it a go and seeing what happens?