One of the strengths of St. James is the commitment to prayer. When we pray, we are intentionally speaking with God and listening for his response. The Bible encourages us to pray often and for a wide variety of purposes including worship, thanksgiving, making requests of God both for ourselves and for others, and simply getting to know God better. As a result of this, the congregation at St. James is marked by several "layers" of prayer in which we take the time to speak with God for these various purposes.
The prayer chain is available to members of the St. James community and to their families and friends. Two teams pray on a short-term or long-term basis for a variety of issues or situations. Our goal is to uphold, strengthen, and encourage others as we pray in faith for God’s will, guidance, healing, and intervention.
The prayer chain coordinator receives the majority of prayer requests via phone, email, or from our lay pastoral care team, clergy, or the church office. The coordinator edits and composes the prayers, and sends them down one or both teams, depending on the urgency of the requests. The prayer chain roster currently consists of 13 volunteers. Prayer requests are confidential, meaning that no one outside the chain is aware of them, unless the coordinator is asked to pass the request on to our lay ministers or clergy.
Before the 10:00 am service, our team of lay administrants meets to pray for the service, and also to discern what the Holy Spirit might be saying to the congregation or to an individual that day. This "word" may be a literal word or a phrase, an image or sense that is impressed upon a person. These impressions are written down and then shared with the congregation in the middle of the service. It is amazing, the number of people who testify how the things that are shared have intersected/described their life situation and caused them to explore further with the Prayer Team after receiving holy communion.
Every Sunday morning in both services, a member of the congregation takes time to pray for a variety of particular people and situations. Many of these items are brought up in a regular rotation and include:
- all the Christian churches in a particular country in the world and the Anglican church leadership within it
- our Bishop and one of the churches in the Anglican Dioceses of Calgary
- one of the other Christian churches in the city of Calgary
- one of the missions efforts St. James is currently supporting
- the leadership of St. James itself
- a particular focus based on the "31 Days of Prayer for St. James" booklet
- a different household from our congregation for the next 6 days
- particular requests that individuals have asked to be made known
All of these prayer requests are published in our weekly bulletin so that the congregation can easily recall them and continue to pray for them over the course of each week.
An integral part of our Sunday worship is to provide the opportunity for anyone who attends to receive personal prayer during the Eucharist or following the service. We have a team of people who are gifted and trained in prayer ministry and who love to listen to the cares and concerns of others and offer their support in prayer right then, trusting that God will graciously do his work in their lives. Receiving prayer in this way has proved to be a powerful way to experience the assurance that God is present in every circumstance and will always be faithful to help and guide those who ask.
St. James depends on knowing that, as a whole, we are moving forward in the direction God would have us go and that we are aware of his protection and care for us. Helping provide this confidence is our team of intercessors who gather twice a week to pray specifically for the parish and its overall wisdom, health, and strength. Knowing that this blanket of prayer continually covers our church provides great comfort as we endeavour to fulfill God's mission for us.