Why Pray? Songs of Praise


Why Pray?

Greater Manchester's police chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, speaks about his faith and the importance of prayer in the light of the murder of two of his officers.


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-It helps focus and clear your mind before the day.

-Parents' health. Well-being.

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-It does help you in the moment.

-Sometimes in sad times.

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Like when somebody's died.

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It's just a belief and a routine that I have.

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If you're wondering what on earth they're talking about,

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it's prayer. But why DO we pray?

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That's a very good question.

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This week, praying in times of tragedy,

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almost a century of prayer,

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and praying together for the nation,

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with prayerful songs of praise

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and music from The Priests.

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In a week when two police officers have been murdered

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in Greater Manchester, our thoughts have been with those

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who have lost loved ones, and many of us have turned to prayer.

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Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

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My name is Sir Peter Fahy...

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In this week's Songs Of Praise,

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we'll be hearing from the Chief Constable

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of Greater Manchester Police, who lost two of his officers.

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Greater Manchester Police is a family,

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and to have lost two colleagues this week

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in awful, violent circumstances

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has just been devastating for the whole force.

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Very, very dark day.

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As well as reflecting on the events of the last few days,

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we'll also be meeting a man

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behind the 24-7 Prayer movements

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and hearing about the positive power of prayer

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on communities around the country.

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Our first hymn is from Salisbury Cathedral,

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and it puts this week's theme of prayer into perspective.

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Clearly, we are devastated today

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by the loss of two of our officers...

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The Chief Constable said the deaths marked

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one of the darkest days

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in the history of Greater Manchester Police,

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if not the police service overall.

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Sir Peter has been telling us what he meant by that

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and how his Christian faith comes into focus in times like these.

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I think a lot of us feel passionately

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that policing is a vocation.

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It is a calling.

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I feel that, in terms of my faith,

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but I know a lot of officers

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who don't have a faith

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feel exactly the same.

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That it is a vocation.

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It's not just a job.

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And I think that's what you

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go back to in difficult times,

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in difficult circumstances.

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That how unfair something may feel,

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that how inadequate you may feel,

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you do actually rely on, at the end of the day,

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you're doing your best and this is your vocation.

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The Chief Constable told us

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how he personally deals with tragic events that are so close to home.

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The chance for me personally

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to be able to every day

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have a bit of quiet time, pray,

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think about your own values,

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your own sense of vocation,

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to examine your own conscience,

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I think, is really, really important.

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A prayer vigil will take place on Tuesday,

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a week after the police officers were killed.

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We know a lot of people would like to express

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their feelings at this time.

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It's mainly, really,

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for their colleagues.

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For members of the force,

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but no doubt there will be members

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of the community, local people,

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who will want to use a vigil

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whether they have a faith or not,

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really - just to be there.

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It is that sort of,

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like, human need to express emotion, to be together.

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For me, you know, personally,

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and I think for a lot of people of faith, prayer is important.

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You do often feel so helpless,

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so praying for the dead officers,

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praying for their families,

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becomes your own reaction,

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your own expression of hope, really,

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for them, at a time of great need.

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In the Greater Manchester Police headquarters,

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Sir Peter wanted a reminder

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of the founding principles of the police service,

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which includes Sir Robert Peel's belief

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that, "The police are the public,

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"and the public are the police."

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We believe very much in what Robert Peel laid down for us

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back in 1829, that we are

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a routinely unarmed police force.

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That we use the minimum of force,

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and that we have

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this very close connection

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with the community that we serve.

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And that is really, really important

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to us.

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Praying for communities is at the heart of a Christian charity,

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that believes that the church needs to engage with local people

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to bring about positive change in their neighbourhoods.

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We work with people of goodwill, of faith and no faith,

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and that's something that I'm really personally very passionate about.

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The charity's vision began almost 20 years ago,

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and led to seven years of prayer in the city of Manchester.

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We looked at the city

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and started to respond by gathering

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all the different churches together and saying,

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"Let's pray about the things which affect peoples' everyday lives,"

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like education, healthcare, the arts.

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We were praying in a very targeted way

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about issues that really affected peoples' lives

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and we wanted to see that our prayers would change things.

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Come on, guys!

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There are a growing number of community cafes around the country

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run by the charity, that bring people together in a new way.

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This one is in Bolton.

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We're trying to reduce anti-social behaviour and stuff in the area,

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so we're giving the children something to do.

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In this economic climate of cuts,

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we've found ROC has been really popular,

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because we include the partner agencies.

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We get the church to think outside of its four walls,

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and we get to look at positive solutions to social problems.

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God loves communities, and we get God's heart in that.

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The church hasn't got a monopoly on goodness or on kindness,

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because God made all people in his image.

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The hustle and bustle and, perhaps, hassle, of everyday life.

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Pete Greig is one of the founding champions

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of the 24-7 Prayer movement.

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24-7 Prayer started with a group of us.

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We were students on the South Coast, in Chichester,

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and we really got serious about our faith.

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We realised, if this is true, we really need to give it everything

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and we realised that the key was prayer.

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The key to pretty much everything in the Christian life is prayer.

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Prayer is a two-way conversation with the living God,

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who loves and listens to the things we say.

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We decided we'll just start trying to pray in one-hour shifts

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in a special room, round the clock

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and just amazing things began to happen as we prayed.

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Prayers were answered,

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people were experiencing God's presence

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in ways they never had before.

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People who weren't Christians were coming in and using the prayer room.

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But not all their prayers were answered.

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When Pete's wife, Sammy, was diagnosed with a brain tumour,

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he had to question whether his prayers were working.

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I would sit by her bed and I would pray for her,

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and it just didn't seem to work,

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and after a while, I just stopped praying,

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because it was hard enough having to deal with the kids

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and waking up in hospital with her the next morning,

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without having a crisis of faith as well.

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Pete now believes prayer really helped them

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get through a difficult time.

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Finding myself in the middle of that crisis...

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..I didn't find I could pray long, impressive prayers.

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I prayed really simple, childish prayers.

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My prayers were kind of like a man falling downstairs saying, "Help!"

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It was, "Don't let her die," "Please make her better,"

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"Please help us," "Show me what to do."

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And in many ways, I CAN see how God helped us.

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My wife's still alive.

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She's doing way better than the doctors ever thought she could,

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but I think I learnt that prayer

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isn't just a force that changes the world,

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but that prayer changes us,

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and that, in prayer, we experience peace.

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We experience God's presence with us.

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So I think we learnt something about how God

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doesn't always airlift us out of our problems.

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Sometimes he parachutes in

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and he joins us in the middle of the mess.

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Some people dedicate their whole lives to prayer.

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I'm off to meet two nuns who have done just that.

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'St Michael's Convent in Ham Common in Surrey

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'is home to the community of the sisters of the church.

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'Sister Dorothea is 97 years old, and Sister Veronica is 30.'

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It's fair to say that you've devoted a long time to prayer in your life?

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Yes, I have.

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Has the way you pray changed over the years?

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Oh, yes...

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entirely.

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I mean, it's very much, I think,

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a sense of being present to God,

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of feeling God's presence.

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Have you learnt a lot from Sister Dorothea?

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I have, yes, a lot,

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and also Dorothea has been Mother Superior,

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and just her examples are very important.

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-Do you pray all day?

-Yes.

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It's all day, yes,

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even though you're not in the church or in the chapel setting,

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but whatever you do, you know,

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if you know that, whatever you do, you do it for God,

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then it's all about prayer.

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For somebody that's never prayed before, why should they start now?

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Why should they try it?

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I think you can be aware

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of whatever you're doing.

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I mean, for instance, there's an idea

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on which the Buddhists are very much keen, called mindfulness.

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-Yes.

-And all the time, you're aware

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everything is part of you,

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part of life, part of your life with God.

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It's all holy.

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I mean, we have our prayer times when we pray together,

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and we all have our separate...

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but most of our life, we're living ordinary lives.

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I mean, I've been headmistress of a school,

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where you can't be praying half the time,

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a children's home - you're looking after children.

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It's prayer. You can be prayerful.

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You can be aware that what you're doing is God-directed.

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Do you think all prayers are answered eventually?

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Well, you're aware of the needs.

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You share them with God's presence, and really,

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you leave with him the outcome.

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Well, not every prayers are answered,

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but that doesn't mean that God doesn't answer our prayer.

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They are answered,

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but in one way or the other that we cannot understand.

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In what way does it enrich your life?

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It's quite difficult to begin with,

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if anybody is joining a religious order

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and to live in this life of prayer.

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It's really hard work.

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It's really hard work, to be honest.

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Prayer is not easy.

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How do you think your life would be different without prayer?

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Well, it's a sense of being held,

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of belonging to something beyond yourself,

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that your life has meaning,

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whatever you're doing.

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# Our father

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# Who art in heaven

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# Hallowed be thy name

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# Thy kingdom come

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# Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

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# Give us this day our daily bread

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# And forgive us our trespasses

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# As we forgive those who trespass against us

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# And lead us not into temptation

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# But deliver us from evil

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# For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory

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# Forever and ever

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# Amen. #

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This Saturday, thousands of people are going to be gathered here

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at Wembley for the National Day of Prayer.

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'The West Ham and Millwall stadiums

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'have already hosted mass prayer events.

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'Now, it's Wembley's turn.'

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As a child, you're encouraged to kneel by your bed and pray.

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It's a very solitary thing.

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On Saturday, 70,000 people will be here all praying for one thing.

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Does that make that prayer more powerful?

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It's a different atmosphere.

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I mean, people just get into the flow of it.

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Get into the flow of the worship.

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They have worship bands and worship leaders

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that they're familiar with as well.

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That also helps. Then you have the choir.

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-Jesus! CROWD:

-Jesus!

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-We ask you! CROWD:

-We ask you!

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Help!

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We tell people to pray in groups,

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we tell them to pray individually,

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we tell them to pray at a local church.

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And so, Aled, it's...

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you should come. You'd really enjoy it!

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I'm getting anxious a little bit.

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I'm imagining 70,000 people here praying powerfully up to God.

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What about if he's not home that day?

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I've lived long enough to see prayers, heartfelt prayers, answered.

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And I've lived long enough to see heartfelt prayers not answered.

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It's a mystery. And sometimes we can't answer all the questions.

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But what we do know is that the Bible orders us to pray,

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and when we do pray, we do see things happen.

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Somebody said, "When you pray, coincidences happen.

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"When you stop praying, they stop." HE LAUGHS

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So just keep praying and let those coincidences keep happening.

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Dennise Christensen was one of the thousands that attended

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the previous National Prayer Gatherings.

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I think the biggest thing to pray for

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is unity -

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unity amongst people,

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unity amongst the generations, the different cultures.

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Christianity is a very inclusive religion,

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and Jesus is obviously our role model,

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and when I hear about his last prayers...

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his last words were in the form of a prayer to his father,

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and saying, "When I leave, may there be unity."

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And then he said, "Let the world know that these are my disciples

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"because of the love they have, one for another.

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"Let the world see that, at the root of it,

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"it's loving each other that brings power and brings strength."

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'Dennise has kept a journal to record answered prayers from her life.'

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Well, this is my little treasure book of prayer.

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It's actually my book of answered prayer,

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and we live in very troubled times,

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and with my children growing up in the heart of the city,

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as it were, we've gone through some very difficult times,

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and if God doesn't come through for me on those difficult times,

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then what is the point of my faith?

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Dennise is really looking forward

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to praying with others at Wembley Stadium.

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To fill it with prayer, worshippers' prayer...you know,

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when we sing to God, it's prayer,

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when we meditate, it's prayer.

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Prayer is wherever there is unity amongst Christians

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and where we are invoking the same God.

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We're hoping that people will leave this place

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with a sense that prayer is powerful

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and prayer will affect a change.

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Throughout the centuries, saints have left us

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with their thought-provoking prayers,

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like this one from St Richard, once Bishop of Chichester.

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"Thanks be to my Lord, Jesus Christ,

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"for all the benefits thou hast given me...

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"..for all the pain and insults thou hast borne for me.

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"O, most merciful redeemer, friend, and brother...

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"..may I know thee more clearly,

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"love thee more dearly...

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"..and follow thee more nearly.

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"Amen."

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And before we go, a medley of two great gospel songs

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from the congregation of St John at Hackney.

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Next week, I'll be beside the sea in Brighton,

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to meet a talented artist who's divinely inspired,

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and a high-flying mum who's changing lives around the world,

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and the singing comes from Church of Christ the King,

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led by Stuart Townend.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Greater Manchester's police chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, speaks about his Christian faith and the importance of prayer in the light of the murder of two of his officers. Aled Jones also hears about the 24/7 prayer movement, a charity that is changing communities through prayer, and the forthcoming National Day of Prayer.


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