When I pray I have a number of ever-changing people, places, and things that I remember. In the congregation I now serve we have a Prayer Net and the person organizing it keeps track of people to pray for – usually people in some form of illness or distress. She sends out an e-mail every once in a while. A gentleman in my previous parish did the same, and I suspect most churches have someone doing this.
I also use prayer cycles. These are usually promulgated by institutions. The two main ones that I use are:
- The Anglican Cycle of Prayer Each day this cycle provides the names of one or more dioceses and their bishops within the Anglican Communion. Over the course of a year every diocese and bishop will be prayed for.
- The Prayer Diary for the Diocese in Europe, Church of England. Each day a different chaplaincy (i.e. parish) is remembered. Over two months every chaplaincy is prayed for. On Sundays partner churches in Europe with whom we are in communion are remembered.
Many dioceses have something similar to the Prayer Diary of the Diocese in Europe. For example, the Diocese of British Columbia on Vancouver Island regularly issues Intercessions which name the various clergy and ministries.
I am an associate of two Anglican religious orders for women, and I pray for them daily.
- One is the Community of the Sisters of the Church (“CSC”) which has become well known through the television program Call the Midwife. They have four provinces – the UK, Australia, Canada, and the Solomon Islands. The CSC is very small in Canada, with only three sisters left, but I receive from them a monthly prayer cycle in which each day I pray for one or more of the sisters in a location, as well as some of the associates in Canada. I recognise many of the associates!
- The other is the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, which has a convent in Toronto and a house with two to four sisters in Victoria. They do not have a prayer cycle as such, but I receive their newsletter, and I copy the group photo that is taken at their annual chapter. I then mark it up by numbering off the sisters from one to twenty-five, and pray for them by name, giving me one sister a day to pray for. I already know many of them personally, but this exercise helps me to know all of their names and faces. I fill up the rest of the month by remembering people like the Oblates, the Associates, Benefactors, the Visitor, and so forth.
I have used other Prayer Cycles in the past.
- I used to have one for the Council of the North, which is the organization of the “northern” dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada which receives financial support from the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. I used it until I knew that it was out of date, and it does not appear that they have issued an updated one.
- At one time I also had one relating to the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, but if I remember correctly it was a time limited thing and I haven’t seen a replacement.
- The Rev. Canon Dr. John Steele, who attended many World Council of Churches (“WCC”) meetings on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada, introduced me to their Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer, which is simply a cycle of prayers through the year on a weekly basis for every nation. This week, for example, we pray for Cyrus, Greece, and Turkey (hey, that includes us on Crete!)
Doing these cycles help me to be more other-minded. It does remind me of the extensive network that the church is, and of the many people I know within it. My hope in writing this down in some detail is to suggest to you that if you are trying to develop a discipline of prayer that the use of prayer cycles is one tool you might want to adopt. Again, as I said in my earlier post on prayer, this is not about changing God’s mind, but about changing mine – my soul and body. May you be changed, too.