This article was originally published in Edition (16) of Prayer Magazine, Jan 2009.

Dress unusually…

Gill Beard regularly dresses up like a lollipop lady and stands outside her church, inviting people to come in and be prayed for. She says that ‘the outfit attracts more attention than if you’re just standing there, and it disarms people if you just say ‘hello i’m offering prayer’”

She does this as part of Prayer Stop – an initiative born out of Greyfriars Church in Reading. Having run their Prayer Café project for a few years, they decided to ‘get hold of Hope08’ and felt led to set up Prayer Stop. ‘It’s always been our hearts to do something like this’, says Gill, ‘but Hope08 prompted us to get on and do it’.

Prayer Stop offers a quiet, private space for people to receive prayer from a prayer booth. Volunteers are offering to pray for any need that people bring, with two people working outside the church and two people manning prayer booths inside.

This project attracts an average of forty people over two hours, and Gill is starting to see regulars come back more than once – ‘which is fabulous’. People from five churches in Reading work on the project, and they’re excited about the feedback they’ve been getting.

‘One guy who lost his faith came back to the church’, Gill enthuses, ‘and one lady who was desperate for a job got one that totally turned her life around!’

One day at Prayer Stop Gill met a Sikh whose elderly father was injured in India. He was worried that his father would not get medical attention for his broken hip and asked the team to pray. Gill recently received news that he was now back in India, telling everyone in his village that ‘prayers to the God of the people of Reading had been answered’.

Greyfriars church is in a multicultural area and Gill and the team are excited about the potential Prayer Stop has to reach across cultural boundaries. The local Hindu postmaster has offered his car park as a location for Prayer Stop, having said that ‘anything that benefits the community can only be good’.

The Prayer Team are passionate about what they’re doing. It’s a low key, small scale initiative but it’s got more than Reading in it’s sights. ‘If we can be brave enough to stop people and talk to them then we could really minister to this country’.


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