When Clive suggested 24/7 prayer, with different groups using their talents for different ways of praying for an hour, I was very daunted! Sing? play? paint? draw? dance? poetry? – my skill level on all these is zero. As house group leader, I felt kind of obliged to come up with something. And as I have no idea where the ‘pray it with flowers’ idea came from, I have to assume it was God’s idea not mine!
I’ve always loved flower festivals and they always seem to be spiritual occasions, even for folk coming into church without much of a religious background. So, it seemed that this would work as a very mini version of the same thing to inspire all our prayers.
One problem with praying is that it’s so easy to churn out a list of things we think God wants us to pray for, without ever asking him. We just ‘think of things’. Far better to listen to what he calls us to – and how better than through his own creation. Guess I’ve always been a bit of a Celt since some wonderful trips to Iona! Even St Paul shares something of the sentiment in his letter to the Romans: “Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made”.
The brilliant thing about praying with flowers was that we found we had to start in a place ‘dictated’ by the flowers. Looking at the flowers, what did we have as a starting point? Flowers come in all shapes and sizes: tall or short, diverse; a multitude of colours, dead, wilting, special or common; seeds and bulbs; life not yet started. With these to hand, and only a concordance to save the day when not quite sure where that favourite Bible passages came from, our prayer contribution was governed by which bible passages, the flowers ‘suggested’.
Photo: Pray it with flowers!
On ‘the day’ of course, great fun was had by a small remnant of our house group who could be there, as we were surrounded by an array of plants laid out in piles on a ground sheet, and tried to ‘fit’ the flowers we had into something resembling bouquets, (with a bit of sneaking out in the dark to raid the car park and remembrance garden for additional contributions we thought could pad out the theme).
I think my favourite was the alter flowers: the passage was “whenever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20): an ideal passage for our whole 24/7 prayer, and so great for the alter flowers. But the big sunflower over the ‘congregation’ of flowers on the pedestal really just happened – it was just left over from the other bouquets as too big. And the pampas grass angel’s wings just happened to have been cut from a neighbour’s garden at the last minute (they really were hanging over my side of the fence – just) with no idea beforehand of where they would be used. But it all came together; with Elaine, Rob and I each sticking flowers in here and there in a way that would have had real flower arrangers recoiling in horror.
All in all, it was a lovely evening and the two hours just flew by. We also wanted to leave something in the church that would be helpful to the brave souls coming after us at unsociable hours during Friday night. It was lovely to have so many positive responses and see the flowers used again in Leslie’s prayer time during Sunday church.