On two occasions this week I found myself either praying, or being prayed for, in public places. On Wednesday a colleague and I, who is also a minister, were walking in a park in Inverness. We met a friend of my colleagues and, as we were talking, another gentleman, known to both my friends and is involved in church leadership, arrived on the scene. Before we parted my colleague’s friend asked to pray for our respective ministries. Heads bowed we prayed under the watchful eye of some local dog walkers. When we opened our eyes a young woman, passing with her dog, said; I see you are praying, I am a Christian too! We all felt encouraged by the experience.
On Thursday, I went into Tesco’s Café so that I could think about, and write up, my shopping list over a cup of coffee. As good an excuse for a coffee as any, I think. I had not long settled down when a friend from church arrived whom I invited to join me. She did, but was anxious to draw my attention to the couple at the table next to me as the woman had been crying. My friend had noticed this and went over and offered her some words of comfort and a copy of the booklet, Try Praying. Both were gratefully received as was the offer to pray with them there and then.
However, the couple’s story, and the reason for the tears, is very moving. Under normal circumstances I would never disclose names on this blog but Kathryn and Gregg Brain, along with their son Lachlan, are desperate to get their story out there in the public domain. They have been living in this country for almost 5 years but have been told that, despite both having good jobs and not in any way living of the state, they have to leave the country within 28 days. Their case has been recorded in the local press and if you want to support them you will find information on how to do so here:-
Of course, and we can sometimes say this lightly, the most important thing that we can do is to pray for them. Why? Because prayer appeals to the highest court that we can reach. That is God’s throne. We can appeal to him to intervene in all sorts of affairs that we consider unjust in the knowledge that he is the one who always acts justly and is perfect in his judgement. As the well-known prayer says: your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. We can also pray for the Brains, and other displaced people, in appeal to God that they would know the fulfilment of his promises, e.g. Jesus said that he would send us the comforter. So let us fervently pray for them.
In this week that we call Holy Week Jesus encounter with life reminds us that, as God incarnate, he is able to identify with all that we might have to go through. He experienced disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, extreme mental and physical torture but, perhaps worst of all, the indignity of the Cross that caused him to cry out to His Father, ‘why have you abandoned me’?
And yet, we know that from that darkest hour, when all seemed lost, on the third day, God acted: ‘See What a Morning, Gloriously Bright’, as one hymn writer puts it. Darkness is dispelled. Hope is restored and love is the victor. Words fail us!
All of Jesus trial and execution was acted out in the public domain and there were many witnesses to the resurrected Christ. Try Praying is not just a quirky evangelical trick. It is our opportunity to publicly witness to all of this wonder, whether people accept prayer or not. People may not always want us to pray for them in public places. But the invitation should be there as in that invitation we offer Jesus. So Try it, because you can!
Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed!
May this declaration
resound not only in these walls
but touch the lives
of all we meet
and forever be
the truth of which we speak.
once sown within a garden,
tended for your own people,
neglected and rejected,
now spreads its sweet perfume
in this place
and wherever it is shown.
Jesus is risen!
He is risen indeed!
How blessed is this day, when earth and heaven are joined and humankind is reconciled to God!
May the light of Jesus shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find his light ever burning in our hearts—he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. 
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
 adapted from the Book of Common Prayer -1979, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.