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We like to think we are a prayerful parish here in Wilmslow and this feels particularly important in our increasingly busy and frenetic lives. All of us need time and space to reflect, find peace and listen to God. These days many people come to church because they feel in need of some simple mental and physical space, calm and peace.

We have ‘Prayer Chains’ and ‘Prayer Partners’ – systems where people take responsibility to pray for one another both regularly and for particular situations or at times of crisis.

Prayer happens each week in our services and many people are involved in writing and reading the intercessions in church. Prayer in a variety of forms also happen in some of our Home Groups. Recently Magdalen visited several of the groups and made prayer beads with people and taught them their significance and how to use them.

The Guild of St Raphael monthly service is also a quiet and prayerful place where the theme of healing is incorporated and where there is the opportunity for the laying on of hands.

Sometimes too specific teaching on prayer and how to do it happens too. For example, in January and February 2010 St Annes spent five Sundays looking at a variety of prayer topics – Ignatian meditation, the Lord’s Prayer, ‘review of the day’, ‘does God answer prayer?’ and, finding stillness. We even managed to mirror some of these subjects in our Sunday School sessions. Magdalen preached about each subject and in the intercession ‘slot’ the congregation practised the various techniques and people seemed to really enjoy this.

In July we hope to run a ‘Retreat in Daily Life’

Retreat in Daily Life

Many of us sometimes yearn to ‘get away’ from it all by visiting a religious community like a monastery and ‘going on retreat’. But fitting this in and making time can be difficult and then there’s the cost.

Each year the parish offers a ‘retreat in daily life’ for anyone who would like to try it. The beauty of doing this is that it is a way of taking some spiritual ‘time out’ while living our ordinary life. The retreat will be a ‘guided’ one with Paul, Magdalen and possibly other leaders who will act as ‘soul friends’ or spiritual guides.

The retreat uses the technique of Ignatian meditation – a way of reading and reflecting on biblical passages using the imagination. Ignatius was a 16th century nobleman-turned monk who developed the ‘Spiritual Exercises’ which are still widely used by many people today. It is a powerful and often very personal way of discovering where God is present in a person’s life. It is also a way of helping to experience the presence of God in the heart rather than simply thinking about him intellectually in our heads. Some of you will have watched the recent series - “The Big Silence” where five people from a variety of backgrounds experimented with this technique.

More than anything this kind of retreat can be a real opportunity to reflect on our own individual lives on a one-to one basis with another person. Both Paul and myself have had experience ourselves of doing two individually guided retreats for 5 weeks. The one we will run here will be for 3 weeks. This is what happens:

Those who wish to participate come to an introductory meeting with some refreshments. At this meeting the prayer technique and process will be explained to everyone.

After this each person will meet with either Paul or Magdalen individually. At this their ‘soul friend’ will give them one or two Bible passages to read and reflect on each week.

Then each day (usually 5 days out of 7), each person finds 20 minutes or longer to read and meditate on each passage and sometimes to write down what has happened when they have done this.

Each week they then come and talk through the experience with their soul friend. At the end people will meet together for a simple service and refreshments. The meetings between you and your ‘soul friend’ are completely confidential.

Having done this kind of ‘retreat’ before I would thoroughly recommend it and is a genuine opportunity. It is potentially a deepening and transformative way of understanding where God is and how he is working in our lives. Expect to feel changed!

Nearer the time a list will be put at the back of both churches for those who would like to participate. If you would like to find out more in the meantime please ask Paul or Magdalen.

There is a contemplative

In all of us,

Almost strangled

But still alive,

Who craves quiet

Enjoyment of the Now,

And longs to touch

The seamless

Garment of silence


Makes us whole.

Alan P Tory

Jesus walking on the water

By Berry Northen

Inspired by the retreat in daily life 2011