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People are praying more than ever. Russell Brand released a fascinating video on YouTube: “Why the Hell are people suddenly googling “Prayer”?”. It’s definitely worth a watch.

Last Sunday, Zoom reported technical outage because so many people were trying to access church service on line. “The Church breaks the Internet” one pudit joked. A national broadsheet reported that 1 in 4 people have accessed church online.

Today marks a special day for Christians across Lancashire. It is Ascension Day: marking the day when Jesus was supernaturally taken up to heaven after His resurrection. Christians see this as an assurance that there can be bodily life in heaven after death.

It also marks the start of “Thy Kingdom Come”. Since 2016, this prayer movement has swept churches of all denominations across over 100 countries, praying for ten days up to the festival of Pentecost Sunday on 31 May. Praying for God’s blessing, for heaven to break the boundaries to earth and for people to experience the reality and presence of Jesus.

In the Diocese of Blackburn, people of all ages will be praying for friends, neighbours and communities. Across Lancashire, we are featuring an online Festival of Prayer and Worship from different churches each day.

Wonderfully, our first service today is bilingual in Urdu and comes from St Stephen’s with St James’s Church, Blackburn, led by Rev Sarah Siddique Gill, a missionary priest from Pakistan. Sarah says: “Today, Christianity is not simply a Western religion. It is a global religion which is growing more outside the western world. It is rightly so because the whole world belongs to Jesus. Since #Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement, I felt it important that other languages and cultural expression of Christian faith should be part of this celebration. Hence, my service will have South Asian Christian expression through the use of Punjabi Zaboor (Psalm) and Urdu reading. This service is a celebration of All ages and abilities.”

Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, speaking today said: “In our time of lockdown, it’s been heartening to hear how people across Lancashire are praying more than ever. In #ThyKingdomCome we are praying that people will “come home” to God especially those on the margins. Why not join in?”