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10 August 2011

Riot response: A call to prayer and practical ways to help

After a gathering of prayer on 9 August in Kilburn, the Evangelical Alliance is calling on Christians everywhere to join together to pray each night this week at 7pm in the aftermath of the riots which have hit the capital and other parts of the country in the past few days.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Prayer changes things and as Christians we are called to pray on behalf of our nation.
"Christians are present on the street and participating in the clear-up, by offering encouragement and support to the emergency services and their neighbours while praying for peace."
The following is a suggestion for how to pray: 

Presence - Lord may your presence hover over our nation. Bring peace and protection in cities, towns and villages. Replace the tears of the night with joy in the morning.

Restoration- Restore hope and bring creativity and beauty into barren places and empty lives

Alliances - Bring people together in relationships of mutual respect and understanding, strengthen communities through hope and forgiveness. 

Your kingdom enables darkness to be overcome by light, hatred to be defeated by love and the power of evil to be smashed by good. May your kingdom come bringing a better way forward.

At 7pm, please take a moment of silence and pray this prayer of peace: 

God of peace we pray for:

Peace among us
Peace within us
Peace in our nation.

Practical ways Christians can help, in the short and long-run

While devastating and shocking, the chaos that has hit our communities in the past few days presents a real opportunity for Christians to act in practical and effective ways to show God's love in the midst of the violence, vandalism, looting and arson.
Want to help out, but stuck for what exactly to do?
How about…
Baking: Our paramedics, police officers and fire fighters have been run off their feet over the past few days and with an increased presence on the streets today, they will be even more tired. How about showing your appreciation for what they do by baking some goodies and taking them round to your local station to say thank you and keep their spirits up?
Befriending: You may never have spoken to your neighbours, but some may be feeling particularly lonely, scared or vulnerable in the coming hours - particularly the elderly. How about checking on them, inviting them into your home to share a meal or simply watch the news together?
Cleaning-up: Restoring our communities following the devastation is a huge operation, but we can all do our bit to help. You may be able to get stuck in by getting involved in a riot clean-up, but how about donating supplies such as gloves, bin bags, brooms and water to clean-up operations and emergency service workers doing their best to restore our streets?
Buying: Many independent shopkeepers have had their livelihoods disrupted by the rioting, with many having seen their shops and goods destroyed. How about buying from a local shop that is open to provide some encouragement?
Talking: In times of crisis, it's good to talk. How about talking to shopkeepers to ask them how you can help? How about talking to the neighbour whose name you don't know to find out whether they are ok? How about talking to your teenage children and making sure they stay in tonight?
Feeding: Local churches have the opportunity in the coming hours and days to be beacons of hope in our communities. How about opening up your church hall to provide a community lunch for your neighbours and emergency workers?
Visiting: Hundreds of young people have been arrested. Contact your local prison ministry to see if there are ways you can help them. Contact Prison Fellowship at info@prisonfellowship.org.uk, Daylight Christian Prison Trust at office@daylightcpt.org  or Langley House Trust at info@langleyhousetrust.org for more information.
Volunteering: Some of the rioters and looters are as young as 10 years old. Why not get involved in a youth club or ministry? This can be through your church or through a community project. Young people need good role models and now may be a good opportunity to get engaged with this age group. Or find ways to encourage and support the youth workers in your church and community. Check out XLP and Street Pastors for urban ministry opportunities.
Inviting: Many people who have been affected by the riots, or who are nowhere near the disturbances but feel anger and confusion, may be wondering where to turn for help and encouragement. Think about inviting someone you know to a church or prayer service this weekend - it may be exactly what they're looking for.
Praying: Prayer changes things. Here are some ideas of how to pray, courtesy of 24-Prayer.