MANY of our churches have begun to open for public prayer albeit with restrictions. This is a great blessing because this is what churches are for.

They have been places of sanctuary, of sacred space, of peace, of beauty and prayer.

They have been there at moments of great national importance such as wars, famines and natural disasters. They have been closed this year for longer than at any time since an interdict in the reign of King John, when Pope Innocent III banned all services in England between March 1208 and May 1213.

A recent survey by Andrew Village and Leslie Francis has found that, out of 6,000 respondents, 80 per cent of clergy and 76 per cent of laity agreed that the lockdown had helped the Church to move into the digital age.

On the other hand, two-thirds of clergy (64 per cent) and laity (68 per cent) agreed that church buildings were central to our witness in the community.

When people return to pray in churches and chapels, they will use many different forms. Some will be emotional and pour out their hearts to God, some will come to pray for others in need and those who are ill, some will come to give thanks for the blessings that they have received and some will come to be silent before God.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46 verse 10) This psalm begins “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.”

Perhaps silence is the best form of prayer because we are open to ourselves and open to God. We are aware of our own state and open to God speaking to us.

Sometimes we find written and historic prayers helpful and I include a few of these that the reader might find helpful:

Almighty God, Father of us all,

we thank you for the beauty of our land,

and for the rich heritage of this nation.

Inspire the people of Wales

with the spirit of righteousness and love,

that in all our dealings with one another,

in prosperity and in need,

we may declare that we are one with each other

and one with you;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Hollalluog Dduw, Tad paw boll,

diolchwn i ti am pryferddwch ein gwlad,

ac am etifeddiaeth gyfoethog y genedl hon.

Ysbrydola bobl Cymru

ag ysbryd cyfiawnder a chariad,

fel yn ein holl ymwneud â’n gilydd,

mewn hawddfyd ac angen, y gallwn gyhoeddi ein bod yn

gytûn â’n gilydd ac â thi;

trwy ein Harglwydd a’n Gwaredwr Iesu Grist. Amen

Remember, Lord, what you have made of us

and not what we deserve:

as you have called us to your service,

make us worthy of our calling;

through Jesu Christ our Lord. Amen

Cofia, Arglwydd, yr hyn a wnaethost ohonom

ac nid yr hyn a haeddwn:

fel y gelwaist ni i’th wasanaeth,

gwna ni’n deilwng o’n galwedigaeth;

trwy Iesu Cgrist ein Harglwydd. Amen.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace:

where there is hatred, let us sow love;

where there is injury, let there be pardon;

where there is discord, union;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy;

for your mercy and your truth’s sake. Amen.

Arglwydd, gwna ni’n gyfryngau i’th hedd:

lle mae casineb, par i ni hau cariad;

lle y mae niwed,bydded maddeuant;

lle y mae anghyfdod, undeb;

lle y mae amheuaeth, fydd;

lle y mae anobaith, gobaith;

lle y mae tywyllwch, goleuni;

lle y mae tristwch, llawenydd;

er mwyn dy drugaredd a’th wirionedd. Amen

Rev John Powell

Former vicar of Cardigan