Prayer is Like a Telephone Daniel Shiells / Mike Newbon

“Prayer is like a telephone, For us to talk to Jesus

Prayer is like a telephone, For us to Talk to God

Prayer is like a telephone, For us to talk to Jesus

Pick it up and use it every day.

You can shout out loud, you can whisper softly,

You can make no noise at all, and he’ll always hear your call…”

As people filter into the church there are joyful greetings, hugs and chatter. It isn’t long before someone asks someone else for prayer.

At any time there could be two or three pairs of people praying for the troubles, joys and praises of the week. Once the service gets going, different people eagerly offer to pray and a whole group come to the front to sign in Makaton the Lord’s prayer as we say it together.

At some point in the service everyone will join a group praying through all kinds of situations and issues. Everyone gets a turn. Almost everyone wants to contribute.

And they can. They can add a symbol to the prayer tree. They can hold a wooden cross and think about God. They can hold hands with their neighbours or lay hands on their shoulders. They can put a pebble in the bowl. They can listen, share and be part of prayer. As the song says…

“You can shout out loud, you can whisper softly. You can make no noise at all, and he’ll always hear your call…”

This is a congregation of adults with learning difficulties, their carers and some other church members. Prayer and learning to pray is at the centre of what we do. We exist to preach the gospel, disciple the members of the group and reach out to others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We call ourselves the Good News Group.

It's easy to assume that people who cannot speak cannot understand. But we presume that all are able. Under the power of the Holy Spirit we can all be part of God’s family. There’s nothing that says anyone is excluded based on their academic ability.

One thing we have learned is to use different forms of communication. We find out the ways people in the group communicate and use those elements in our Bible teaching, praise and prayer times. We’ve discovered that songs, puppets, drama, sensory activities, Makaton signing, pictures, symbols and shorter sentences (such as in the Accessible Bible NIrV from Biblica) give each person a way to access and understand the Bible.

Also, the Spirit helps us. We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself speaks to God for us. He begs God for us, speaking to him with feelings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26 ERV

Last term we looked at how people prayed in different parts of the Bible and how God answered them. We learned for ourselves that prayer can be praise, asking, praising, repentance and enjoying the presence of God.

We love to pray for our friends who don’t know Jesus. In fact, we have grown to double our size of group mainly through prayer and the members of the group telling others about Jesus.

When we pray and sign the Lord’s prayer together, it slows it right down and we can think about each line carefully. When we pray “thy kingdom come” we praise God that his kingdom is for everyone…people with learning disabilities included.

“I like to sit and look around at all the people joining in. It’s wonderful to see them all in their own ways understanding and believing God is with them.” Pauline, leader.

“I like to pray at home and I have a candle to look at while I pray. I pray every single morning and evening and all through the day. I love it when we pray at Good News Group. It helps me when we sign the words and use the prayer trees. I like to write prayers and say them at the end of the service for everyone.” Stefan, group member.

Here is Stefan’s prayer for Thy Kingdom Come…

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for being there for our family, friends, and neighbours. Help people who don’t know about Jesus. Help them to learn about you and help all the poor people around the world. Amen.