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10 January 2012

Theresa Stone - Prayer and communications

Theresa Stone - Prayer and communications

Theresa Stone studied English Literature at Goldsmiths University in London, before doing a multi-media journalism masters at Bournemouth University. She has worked freelance at Premier Christian Radio, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Micah Challenge International. She is now the prayer & communications coordinator for 24-7 Prayer UK. Theresa has a passion for prayer, church unity, mission, justice, and telling God stories.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to perform, and spent a lot of time in amateur dramatics, acting as the Tinman in the Wizard of Oz and various other fun roles. This carried on to university, as Goldsmiths College is known for its arts, and I took part in a performance of Guys and Dolls there, but had to make the decision whether to pursue English or Drama for a degree. I chose English, and since then, although it wasn't an easy decision, have managed to combine both subjects in my life.

How did you end up in journalism?
After university, I took a year out with Youth For Christ as part of their touring schools band 'Truth versus Belief' and then worked as an actress for a theatre company. Although I loved it, in the rehearsal process I realised that in the long-term acting was not what I wanted to do, so I worked in the office for a few months before deciding to study journalism back home. This was a really important part of the journey, as I took my time to make this decision.

Best and worst thing about being a journalist?

I guess I don't have a typical journalist's job because I tell stories about prayer and moves of God, which is a rare thing in the news. Writing is a wonderfully cathartic process, and I think the benefits of journaling are a well-kept secret. I have always written a prayer journal, and this provides me with an easy way to chat to God about my feelings, struggles, hopes and fears in a way that is natural to me.

What piece of media work are you proudest of? 

I don't think I can pick one! I tell stories which aim to shine a light on the truth in a situation, and pinpoint the hopeful places where as a Christian I see God's hand at work. The 24-7 Prayer UK site (http://www.24-7prayer.co.uk) is full of encouraging stories of how God is moving. I also write stories for the Kingdom Come year of prayer website: www.alpha.org/kingdomcome. I'm proud of writing about this!

Is coordinating 24-7 prayer UK a 24/7 job? How do you relax?

Rhythms of prayer and rest are a key part of my role at 24-7 prayer. At 24-7, we pray the Lord's Prayer daily at 12:00 - we all set our phone alarms, and get together to lift up our concerns, hopes and needs for the day. Praying together is a wonderful way of giving stress and burdens over to God, and we couldn't do without it! I also get my batteries recharged through time alone, journaling, playing the piano, reading or jogging, or having a deep chat with a good friend.

What is your hope for 2012?

In 2012, I want to see more people pray in all kinds of ways than ever before in the UK and Ireland, and I want to see more unity in the Church. I am working on a new initiative that 24-7 prayer is doing with Alpha called "Kingdom Come 2012", a year of prayer in the UK and Ireland. There will citywide prayer events in Birmingham next year, and we hope other cities will follow…

Since the 24-7 prayer movement began in 1999 among young people at Revelation Church in Chichester who set up a 24-7 prayer room in response to a hunger for God, it has travelled around the globe, pretty quickly! My job is to mobilize and catalyse prayer in the UK, putting stories about how God touches lives on the website, and creating resources to help people pray. We have seen prayer spaces spread to schools, businesses, gardens, prisons…the list goes on.

... any fears for the new year?

That we won't have a summer! I love the heat.

Who inspires you in your work?
Many people inspire me, I work with such incredible people….Carla Harding, Pete Greig, Phil Togwell, Ian Nicholson to name a few. Lyndall Bywater, who worked in prayer for the Salvation Army for many years and now runs a community in Canterbury is certainly a woman to inspire! My husband Chris Stone encourages me to always work with integrity.

"If my people humble themselves and pray." Enough humility around, you think?

Good question! The 2 Chronicles 14 verse is a special reminder to me, that as the body of Christ, we need to turn to God in prayer as a first point of call. We cannot rely on ourselves alone, or the work of our hands, to change hearts and lives and situations. I want to stay in a position where my heart is not hard but open to hear the voice of God, always putting him first in my life.