Methodists across Ireland have been praying "24/7" since last Friday as part of the month of continual prayer to Easter.
Since the early 1970s, members of the Methodist Church have joined in a special time of prayer for Ireland. This year’s month of continuous prayer was no exception with its focus on prayer for Ireland and its launch to coincide with St Patrick’s weekend from Mar. 17 to 19.
The idea of 24/7 prayer was stumbled upon in September 1999 when a group of young people in England decided to pray non-stop for one month and found themselves praying right up to Christmas.
The initiative has maintained its distinctively young flavor, with hundreds of young people joining in a non-stop chain of prayer via web links.
Commenting on this, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Rev. Des Bain said, "I am encouraged that this year the initiative for all of this has been taken by our own young people but the vigil is not confined to the younger generation but is available for those from every generation who would like the opportunity to come and pray for Ireland, our peoples and their future."
The 24/7 prayer works with groups of individuals pledging to pray 24 hours a day for a week or more in a dedicated prayer-room where they "carry the baton of prayer" for that prayer period. Anyone wanting to take part in the initiative simply has to pick a week and sign up for one hour of prayer in the day or night and can pray either alone or as part of a wider prayer group.
The Methodist Church in Ireland stressed that the month of continuous prayer is not intended for professional prayer experts but rather for "those who find prayer a struggle," it said.
Previous 24/7 prayer campaigns have had huge success in mobilizing people to pray, even those who would not normally pray for so long or at all, with many participants testifying that "an hour feels like 10 minutes in the prayer room."
The first week of 24/7 prayer draws to an end this Friday. The next prayer weeks will be split into Mar. 25-31, Apr. 1-7 and finally Apr. 8-14.