Faith Matters

100 days of prayer for 100 years of history - a reflection

Peter Lynas, Director of Evangelical Alliance, reflects on the 100 days of prayer for 100 years of history initiative.

Harmony North, a choir of pupils from nine north Belfast schools, performed at the conclusion to the initiative

One Friday night late in January, hundreds of people gathered in Clonard to launch 100 days of prayer for 100 years of history.

Close to 100 churches ran prayer rooms, over a thousand people use the prayer app and almost 4,000 magazines have been distributed over the 100 days.

The aim was in a small way to contribute to healing of the past, honour in the present and hope for the future as various groups and individuals came together as part of larger movement of prophetic prayer.

We are a people of proclamation and covenant, but not always the right proclamation or the right covenant. We are also a people shaped by Easter - the Easter Rising and the Good Friday Agreement. But it is the story of that first Easter that shapes my life and that of so many others on this island. The Easter story is a story of reconciliation that makes all other reconciliation possible.

Healing of the past comes through forgiveness. Forgiveness allows us to move on regardless of the how the `other' responds. They no longer have a hold over me. As I extend forgiveness, there is freedom for the other, but only if they accept it. And to fully accept they must admit they have done something wrong and need forgiveness. There was incredible power as the Charleston church victims faced the suspect and said `I forgive you' to a man who had yet to show any remorse.

When I honour someone in the present, I say their name differently - their name is safe in my mouth. Imagine how different his place could be if we spoke well of one another and presumed the best. We need to see this better modelled by our politicians, but we cannot wait for them to take the lead. Working across the community on this initiative is another small step to honouring one another.

Finally, we must have hope for the future. A hope that allows us to grieve our sorrow and pain, but will not allow us to stay there. Dostoevsky reminds us that to live without hope is to cease to live, because hope drives out fear.

This initiative has brought people together and engaged people around the world. Last Sunday night in Sacred Heart encapsulated the spirit behind it - people coming together in hope as a choir representing nine different schools led us in worship.

I hope, as the prophet Zechariah says, that this will be a good place to grow up in and a good place to grow old in. I want this land to be a place laughter and fun and flourishing. I pray that it will be a place of storytellers and risk-takers. I pray that we will continue to be known the world over for our hospitality - welcoming the stranger in.

Finally, I pray that we will be known as a place of incredible generosity - giving out of our abundance. Ireland has a history as a missionary nation from Colombanus to Amy Carmichael. My prayer is that over the next 100 years, the Irish once again save civilisation as Thomas Cahill's book suggests. That there will be such an outpouring of the Spirit, that it simply cannot be con-tained in this little island and releases a new missionary movement.

:: Peter Lynas is Director of Evangelical Alliance and a partner in the 100 days initiative.

Faith Matters

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