Some years ago, Alan Brown proposed that as part of our outreach, we at Norbury organise a programme of Prayer Visiting. This had worked well in other parishes and he was keen to try this at Norbury. It involved people knocking on every door in the parish and asking the occupants if they had any prayer requests – either for themselves or their families, friends or just for world issues. A small but select band volunteered for this as we too felt that this was a worthwhile enterprise.
A leaflet explaining the prayer visiting is put through the doors of the houses to be visited on the Friday and we then visit on the Sunday afternoon. Whilst the door-knockers were out and about, a group of people are back at Norbury praying for the visitors as the whole scheme has to be backed by prayer.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in prayer visiting and would recommend this to anyone. When I first thought about getting involved I thought that it would be too difficult for me to do, after all I wasn’t very good at getting my own prayers right, never mind for other people. But that is not what prayer visiting is about. It’s about asking people if they have any particular needs, writing those down and then passing them on so that the whole church can pray for the people, situations etc. Anyone can knock on a door and smile at the person answering.
I can honestly say that in the two years that I have knocked on doors and smiled, I have only had one negative response. That was from a man who said, in answer to my question of anything you would like us to pray for? said Oh how ridiculous, what a waste of time, although I wasn’t sure whether it was my time or his that was being wasted. My time certainly wasn’t wasted. We had many many people coming to the door and telling us how glad they were that we had come along, how they had been waiting as they or their family desperately needed prayer.
We have had some funny moments too. We knocked on a door of a ground floor maisonette only to be told that prayer was not for her – it was only for the likes of them upstairs – pointing to the first floor maisonette. As they were out we didn’t find out what ‘them upstairs’ needed.
Recently, as Alan was posting the leaflet informing people of the prayer visiting, he had to push hard on a letter box to post it. The door suddenly burst open and he ended up in someone’s front room. He ran away quickly, and also when he rang the doorbell of another house and that set the burglar alarm off – dodgy wiring perhaps?
At one house there was one of those notices – no salespeople, no hawkers - and no religious groups! I decided that since I was on my own I didn’t constitute a group so knocked anyway! We had numerous dogs to contend with but most were friendly when their owners were about. We would of course find many Christians amongst the residents - one or two would tell me that they went to the Catholic Church and we did enough praying there thanks very much. A lot said that it was a lovely idea.
And it is. It is a lovely idea to go out into the parish and see what people need rather than waiting or expecting them to come to us. People who need something don’t always know how to ask, or where to ask. At least if we as a church visit them, ask them or at least give them a leaflet they may know for the future. They will know that God is there for them.
However the best thing for me has been the uplift that it has given me. Some months were harder than others. We would visit (between us) about 90-100 houses in an afternoon. One month we had got to the end of the visiting and there had been no prayer requests, not a single one.
I went to the very last house and the door was opened by a young man. I explained who I was and asked whether he had anything he would like us to pray about. He just looked at me, and I thought – oh well its another no – but then he said, Thank you for coming. We are Christians here too. My brother is having a hard time at the moment. Please pray for him. It will be good to know that your church is praying for him too, as well as us. Thank you so for much for coming. God bless you. That made the whole afternoon worthwhile.
As I said I am no longer going to be going out visiting, but I would urge each of you to consider whether or not you too could try your hand at visiting. The team meet once a month (normally the third Sunday of a month) at 2pm and it usually takes about 1 hour to do all the houses for that month. It’s not a huge commitment and if you cannot make it any month then that doesn’t matter. We really want to continue this work – it is invaluable and the people of Norbury parish need it.
If you feel that you can help at all, please speak to Alan Brown or Rob Green. Thank you.