Prayer and mission: entering into the ways of God

Anvil journal of theology and mission

Prayer and mission: entering into the ways of God

by Adrian Chatfield

The essential foundation of missionary spirituality is prayer and contemplation since Christian mission does not depend on human resources… Redemptoris Missio strongly emphasises the point: “The future of mission depends above all on contemplation. If a missionary is not a contemplative he cannot proclaim Christ in a credible manner.” [2]

Christian spirituality is a gift and a task. It requires communion with God (contemplation) as well as action in the world (praxis). When these two elements are separated, both the life and the mission of the church are deeply affected. Contemplation without action is an escape from concrete reality; action without contemplation is activism lacking a transcendent meaning. True spirituality requires a missionary contemplation and a contemplative mission. [3]

These two assertions, one Catholic, the other Protestant, serve as a useful starting point for an assessment of the relationship between prayer and the missio Dei. They share the insight that prayer in all its forms – including wordless ones – is the expression of a living relationship between God and God’s people: God with me, God with us. That relationship necessarily results in mission because God is a missionary God, but prayer is not primarily the instrument of mission. We pray because of who we are, not because of what prayer might accomplish. Indeed, as Jean Daniélou implies, “prayer [is] the mission of the church.” [4] That is what we are called into: our “primary purpose is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” [5]

Why pray

We pray, first of all, in acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God and our own creatureliness and dependence. “He who comes into the presence of God to pray must divest himself of all vainglorious thoughts, lay aside all idea of worth; in short, discard all self-confidence, humbly giving God the whole glory, lest by arrogating anything, however little, to himself, vain pride cause him to turn away his face.” [6] Calvin’s emphasis here is a salutary reminder that prayer does not in the first instance turn us outward, as crusaders called to demolish strongholds with the tools of prayer. It turns us inward, in the primary act of obedience, to a relationship restored by God in Christ. This is the true worship (weorðsciper) demanded of the disciple: ‘follow me’ means first of all, ‘return to me’. Prayer is a converting action.
Ian Randall has rightly drawn attention to the tension between divine initiative and human activity implicit in the conversionist language of much evangelical spirituality. [7] However, from the perspective of prayer, the ‘new birth’ demands both a recognition of the gracious, uninvited action of God and our reception of that grace, through faith. We pray because we have been ‘converted’ to Christ, and we pray that we may be daily and fully converted.

We pray, secondly, in order to remember these fundamental truths. Prayer is the central act of memory, and the rehearsal of the good news of Jesus Christ in the liturgies of the church builds on that premise. The quasi-sacramental nature of Deuteronomy 6:8-9 reinforces this outward expression of the inner truth: “Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” The prayer of remembrance is indeed both word and action. Conversely, the wicked in Psalm 34 will be eliminated from God’s memory [8] because they are no longer in active relationship with him.

If prayer is response to God’s grace and remembrance of a restored relationship, it also reshapes us. We are reformed by the truths which we have apprehended – through acts of confession and of thanksgiving.

It has become fashionable in recent times to criticise the language of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for overplaying our failures and our shortcomings: ‘the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable.’ Matthew Fox’s Original Blessing [9] is an extreme version of this liberalising tendency, with its sideways swipe at ‘original sin’, and reminds us how easy it is for the church to collude with postmodernity’s dislike of any admission of fault or failure. The classical Christian tradition of confessing one’s sins, whether in Catholic sacrament or Protestant solitude, reminds us that there is no reshaping without repenting. The struggle to be holy – sanctification – is predicated upon the honesty of our prayer, and those who would be transformers must themselves first be transformed.

Similarly but less contentiously, those who remember what God has done for them in Christ respond to grace with gratitude, which results in generosity. Paul’s impassioned plea for the collection for the saints in Jerusalem in 2 Cor. 8 is the classic example of this. Thankful prayer bears fruit in changed lives.

The ecclesial character of prayer

Whether we pray as individuals or congregationally, we pray ecclesially. Karl Barth says that “[o]ne cannot ask whether it is the Christians who pray, or the church. There is no alternative, for when the Christians pray, it is the church; and when the church prays, it is the Christians.” [10] Jean Daniélou comments

That we do not say “My Father” is of fundamental importance. There is nothing individualistic about the Our Father: it is a prayer in which we embrace all other people, a prayer that is at the same time an expression of love. We go to the Father only with our sisters and brothers. [11]

Behind the claim that prayer is primarily ecclesial lies a set of theological premises. The Holy Trinity is a unity of persons with a single will, in perfect harmony and in constant communication. Because of this, the creation of humankind in God’s image and likeness bears a deep Trinitarian imprint: the same harmony, will and communicating relatedness in creaturely form. The fact that we have fallen from the divine intention does not invalidate this truth; what makes us human is our interdependence and mutuality. All sin makes us less than human; our redemption in Christ restores our essential relationship with the Father and our potential relationships with other human beings. This is why the metaphor of reconciliation in 2 Cor. 5 is fundamental for understanding not just what we might become in Christ but also what it means to be human at all.

That is why God calls people together: not simply because we are stronger or better or more loving or more useful, but because the gathered people express a fundamental truth about the created order and its restoration through God’s redemptive action. The people of God in the Old Testament – Israel – and the new and enlarged Israel of the New Testament are called together as a sign of the imago Dei, expressed interiorly as worship to God and exteriorly in the missio Dei.

The ecclesial character of prayer has over the centuries been worked out in both monastic and mystical theologies. Both these streams have much to teach the contemporary church about its vocation to enter into the ways of God, and it is to elements of these two streams that we now turn.

Ancient disciplines and monastic traditions

This is not the place to sketch a history of the monastic movement, but it is worth reminding ourselves that its growth coincided with the acceptance and adoption of Christianity as the imperial faith: Christendom. White martyrdom [12] replaced red martyrdom, as the faithful saw a rise in conventional faith and reacted adversely to it.

That said, I will now highlight key themes in Christian monasticism as they help to elucidate the missional character of the prayer of the church.

The eremitic tradition, the radical withdrawal from society which we associate with Anthony of Egypt, bears witness to the fact that there is an inherent conflict between a life lived towards the world, and a life lived towards God. Whether we understand Anthony’s demons as internal or external, spiritual or psychological, we recognise that there is a stark choice to be made between worship of the true God, and the many idolatries offered by the world. Today we pose the choice in terms of counter-cultural faithfulness to the gospel. The eremitic tradition reminds us that we withdraw to pray because it is only in that withdrawal that we bear witness to absolute and uncompromising surrender to a God who brooks no rivals. This surrender the Radical Reformers of the 16th century called Gelassenheit. [13]

The Desert Mother Amma Sarah said it more simply: “For 13 years she waged warfare against the demon of fornication. She never prayed that the warfare should cease, but she said, “O God, give me strength.” Although Sarah may have been a deeply passionate woman, keenly aware of her sexuality, fornication principally meant anything that possessed her heart and separated her from God. A part of our being belongs only to God and can only be satisfied by God. Replacing God with anyone or anything is idolatry.” [14] To pray is to turn away from idols to the pursuit of the living God.

Paralleling the rise of eremitic Christianity was the coenobitic [15] tradition, often linked with Anthony’s near contemporary Pachomius. If the former privileged the single-minded pursuit of God to the exclusion of all rivals, the latter gave the early church an architecture for the praying community. The Rule of St Benedict [16] sketched this out as demanding stability, obedience and conversio or conversatio morum. To this we can add the disciplines of the daily office, [17] of accountability and of hospitality.

There have been times in the history of monasticism when the religious community has been over-identified with the Kingdom of God, but this theological excess need not detract from the essential emphasis on a people gathered together and organised for the express purpose of faithful corporate prayer that the will of God may be fulfilled on earth as in heaven. The office frames the whole; the community is formed by its common prayer, and it is unsurprising that Benedict dedicates many chapters to what can seem trivial detail. To him, a community fit for purpose is a community that prays. Out of prayer arise hospitality, service and mission. The Prologue describes this praying community as a dominici schola servitii, [18] a ‘school of the Lord’s service’. At its heart, it is a disciplined school of prayer, a school of disciples.

When Dietrich Bonhoeffer established a semi-monastic discipline at Finkenwalde to secure the Confessing Church against the predations of National Socialism, he drew on the revived monastic traditions of the Church of England, at Kelham, [19] at Mirfield [20] and in Oxford. [21] The strong implicit Benedictine spirituality that he found emerges in the early pages of Life Together:

According to God’s will Christendom is a scattered people, scattered like seed ‘into all the kingdoms of the earth’ (Deut. 28:25). That is its curse and its promise. God’s people must dwell in far countries among the unbelievers, but it will be the seed of the Kingdom of God in all the world. [22]

Here, as in the declining years of the Western Roman Empire, we have a people with no city to sojourn in, exiled, a spiritual diaspora, for whom their scattering is both terror and vocation, terror because of the loss of any homeland, vocation because in that diaspora they are called together to witness to a new kind of community that may transform the world. This is a community which looks away from the world to structure, regulate and authenticate itself, prays to the Father in order to orient itself, prays in the name of Jesus to identify itself, prays in the power of the Spirit to dispel the powers of darkness, and then is reseeded back into the world to witness to a better way.

Much of what Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together is scandalous to our ears. In explaining that Christian community is a spiritual, not a human reality, he observes that “within the spiritual community there is never, nor in any way, any ‘immediate’ relationship of one to another… Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them.” [23] But it is precisely in the scandal of his writing that the monastic spirit is identified. The only valid community, the only community that bears within itself redemptive and Kingdom possibilities, is the community which is a gift of God. And it keeps that character only as long as and insofar as it is true to the Christic character of that community: τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς, to live is Christ. [24]

In the current fascination with hospitality as one of the key opportunities for the church’s mission, Bonhoeffer’s point needs to be attended to carefully. We are not in the business of presenting the church as a good place to make friends, reach the lonely, home-make or model good social skills. Rather, we are called to form authentic community, clearly and unapologetically built into Christ, on prayer, and yet utterly open and vulnerable, welcoming and spacious for all who will come. Let this alone be the good news.

The emergence of ‘new monastic movements’ since the Second World War is testimony to the missional potential of this radical, disciplined and uncompromising attempt to follow Jesus together in the face of threatening cultural challenges and an often compromised institutional church. These movements have recognised the power of the monastic stream, both eremitic and coenobitic, to locate the primary action of the church in its relational axis with God the Holy Trinity, and the consequent impact of this in forming resilient, resourceful disciples under orders, ready for battle. In this, they echo the spirituality of the Carolingian church, which at a synod at Metz in 888 observed that ‘we should seek Christ’s piety, by which the pagans will be kept out.’ [25]

What the newer movements have done, very much in the spirit of the 16th century Society of Jesus, is to recognise that what they have, the world needs. The looking in demands more clearly than before a consequent looking out. The inward action of prayer and contemplation enables the outward action of mission, the ‘battle’. The message that new monastic movements are wanting to send out is that when we are who we ought to be towards God, we are enabled to be who we ought to be towards the world, a people of God acting as a sign or sacrament of the coming Kingdom.

One of the key texts of this new stream of thinking about monastic spirituality is Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s New Monasticism. [26] In his chapter on ‘God’s plan to save the world through a people’ he says that though personal conversion and faith are significant, the church is key: “If the Bible is a story about God’s plan to save the world through a people, then my salvation and sanctification depend on finding my true home with God’s people. Apart from the story of this people, I can’t have a relationship with God.” [27] His 12 marks of new monasticism [28] strongly emphasise the foci of the third and fourth marks of mission, [29] which have been somewhat lacking in evangelical Christianity since the middle of the 19th century. It is most important, however, to note that his attempt to recover this missional focus lies in ‘nurturing common life among members of intentional community.’ [30]

Graham Cray regards new monasticism as key to the missional process which is at the heart of fresh expressions of church. In New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church, he offers a missional trajectory based on communities of prayer:

  • community demands commitment
  • commitment forms disciples
  • disciples stand firm against contemporary cultural temptation, together
  • such disciples stand a chance of ‘sustaining the long haul in planting church’

And so “[n]ew monasticism offers the possibility of important frameworks of support for those deployed on such mission.” [31] To juxtapose this with the monastic “pray much, and that God would count you worthy, for the Will of God is known only to him to whom God will reveal Himself” [32] is to demonstrate the congruity of monastic discipline with missionary commitment so desired in the contemporary church.

Ancient disciplines and the mystical quest

The use of the terms ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystic’ tend to put off evangelicals, worried by any suggestion that there is available to us an access to God independent of or superior to the Holy Scriptures. James Wiseman helpfully draws a distinction between the contemporary use of the term, in which ‘a special state of consciousness surpassing ordinary experience through union with the transcendent reality of God’ [33] is intended, and a historic, more orthodox approach, in which mysticism is about presence and immediacy: “the mystical element in Christianity is that part of its belief and practices that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the reaction to what can be described as the immediate or direct presence of God.” [34]
Here, two examples will have to suffice: the Eastern tradition of the Jesus Prayer, and the allegorical use of the Song of Songs.

Jesus Prayer

This prayer, whose deep origin lies in the cry of blind Bartimaeus [35] and in the semi-formulaic ‘in the name of Jesus’ of the Acts of the Apostles, is described by the Pilgrim as ‘the abbreviated form of the Gospel.’ [36] It aims to develop the remembrance of Jesus, to make the invocation of Jesus spontaneous and ‘self-acting’ so that we call out to him even in sleep, keep guard over the intellect or heart and reach out beyond language into the living silence of God. It is a unitive prayer which is “a way of unifying the inward attention, stripping the mind of images, and so attaining hesychia.” [37] To the mind unfamiliar with the seemingly esoteric, detached and apparently mechanical repetitiveness of this prayer, it is easy to discount it as an individualistic journey away from the things of earth.

The truth is entirely other. The Pilgrim’s search for the way of unceasing prayer leads him not away from the world, but into it. Praying the Jesus prayer opens the door to life-changing encounters with others, new ways of looking at the world, a heart broken in intercession, and the exercise of spiritual power. This last we will return to later in touching on the rise of Pentecostalism. À propos of life-changing encounters, we need only observe that the pilgrim is both recipient and giver, of grace, of goods, of spiritual insight. His journey is one of profound interdependence, in which his search for ‘true prayer’ gives him back God, other people and himself.

Similarly, this prayer helps him to see the world as far more alive, both to itself and to others, more, not less real: “When I began to pray with the heart, everything around me became transformed and I saw it in a new and delightful way. The trees, the grass, the earth, the air, the light, and everything seemed to be saying to me that it exists to witness to God’s love for man and that it prays and sings of God’s glory.” [38]

The intercessory character of the Jesus Prayer, which must surely lie at the heart of any missional prayer, is best illustrated by Simon Barrington-Ward’s response to his early encounter with the Franciscan Brother Ramón: “I had already had the feeling when I was praying with him of a further pull, flowing underneath all our talk and laughter, of a profound, far-reaching compassion for all those for whom he would intercede… Within that intercession was an immense, almost lonely hunger and thirst, on behalf both of himself and of our world, a longing in the depths of his being for the living God. This was the driving force behind his quest for solitude.” [39] It is remarkable though unsurprising that the quest for solitude is the journey that took Ramón – and takes many mystics – right into the heart of the world.

Song of Songs: Lover and Beloved

In 1547, the reformer Sébastien Castellión was driven out of Geneva by Calvin for claiming that the Song of Songs was a “lascivious and obscene poem… As it dealt merely with earthly affections, he deemed it unworthy of a place in the sacred canon and demanded its exclusion.” [40] For most Christians in the Middle Ages and beyond, and for many still today, the book’s presence in the canon of scripture invites a multi-layered interpretation which at its heart contains an invitation to intimacy with God. Bernard of Clairvaux first wrestled with the text in convalescence, and from 1135 till 1153 preached on it in a now famous series of sermons.

The second sermon, ‘On the kiss’, reflects on ‘the ardour with which the patriarchs long for the incarnation of Christ’ and the privilege which is ours of letting Christ speak to us, by way of a ‘kiss’, an encounter. In the third sermon, the kiss is divided into three: the kiss to the feet, in repentance; the kiss of the hand, in receiving Christ’s grace for growth in holiness; and the kiss on the mouth, in intimacy. “And now what remains, O good Lord, except that now in full light, while I am in fervour of spirit, you should admit me to the kiss of your mouth, and grant me the full joy of your presence.” [41]

400 years later, John of the Cross wrote a series of poems, several of which pick up on the same theme. and relate it to the dark night of the soul in which nothing is known but God:

En mi pecho florido,
Que entero para él sólo se guardaba,
Allí quedó dormido,
Y yo le regalaba,
Y el ventalle de cedros aire daba.

I gave him there
My thought, my care,
So did my spirit flower.
Love lay at rest
Upon my breast
That cedar-scented hour. [42]

Both Bernard and John are mystical activists whose desire for intimacy can be dismissed as erotic displacement, or more seriously as a theological dualism in which mission is regarded as secondary or inferior, because it deals with the evanescent things of this world, while ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy’ (Psalm 16:11). The truth is that both were busy men engaged in reaching out to the communities around them with deep vocational commitment. The end of Bernard’s Third Sermon has him interrupting his reflections in mid-flow, saying “These guests whose arrival has just been announced to us oblige me to break off my sermon rather than bring it to an end.” [43] This is no navel-gazing, but an intimacy with Jesus which drives us out to ‘kiss’ others with the kiss with which we ourselves have been kissed. To change the metaphor, in order to love with Kingdom love, we must daily know ourselves loved.

For John’s part, apart from his exhausting and often harrowing ministry in a conflictual era, it is worth remembering that the first 31 stanzas of his Spiritual Canticle were composed while he was in prison, in filthy and severely deprived conditions, yet another testimony to the deeply engaged and world-affirming resilience which intimacy with Jesus has brought to many saints of the gospel.

New languages and a new Pentecost

Having addressed monastic and mystical traditions as sources of missional prayer, I turn to the Pentecostal movement of the past century for my third and final example of the interface between prayer and mission.

Ronald Knox’s idiosyncratic study of religious movements: Enthusiasm [44] has fascinated me for many years, not least because of its dismissive perspective on ecstatic forms of religious experience as ‘ultrasupernaturalism’ in which “the first fervours evaporate; prophecy dies out, and the charismatic is merged in the institutional. ‘The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard’ – it is a fugal melody that runs through the centuries.” In his chapter on ‘Some Vagaries of Modern Revivalism’, he mocks glossolalia interminably: “When men and women got so carried away as to be frankly unintelligible, you could see… that they must be actuated by some Force wholly out of the common.” [45]

It is neither my task here to show (though I could) that Ronnie Knox’s argument is driven more by intellectual prejudice and snobbery than by academic rigour, nor to argue the opposite on the basis of the extraordinary way in which Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal movements have embedded themselves in the mainstream of Christianity in little less than a century and a half. My aim is rather to suggest in this final section that the rise of Pentecostalism, from a missiological perspective, gives the church back its gospel voice, and that this voice is given back primarily through prayer.

Velli-Matti Kärkkäinen says that “the key to discerning and defining Pentecostal identity lies in Christ-centered charismatic spirituality with a passionate desire to ‘meet with Jesus Christ as be is being perceived as the Bearer of the ‘Full Gospel’. [46] Stephen Land summarises this spirituality as ‘worship and witness in the light of the End’. [47] As Pentecostals give voice to their spirituality primarily through testimony, I will use an early Anglican Pentecostal narrative to further elucidate the point that in Pentecostalism, as in our examples from the ancient church, it is in “returning and rest [that] you shall be saved” and “in quietness and trust shall be your strength”. [48] The missionary imperative is rekindled in the Holy of Holies.

Alexander Boddy, vicar of All Saints’ Monkwearmouth in the Diocese of Durham, went to Oslo in 1907 and found his ministry transformed by the new Pentecost to which he was introduced by TB Barratt, ‘Apostle to Norway’. In a pamphlet published the same year, he describes the impact on his own congregation and wider church context. [49]

He begins by describing a vision of Jesus blessing the world, a particular act of God in mission: “An earnest ‘Seeker’ whilst kneeling before the Lord in one of our meetings suddenly saw Him with outstretched hands – as if blessing the world. The great world in darkness was below Him, and from His fingertips slowly fell drops of living flame… So she saw many little fires kindled in this country of ours.” [50]

He goes on to explain that “Pentecost’ is a ‘life of union with the Lord Jesus”. This union is experienced in prayer, which is key to new life in the church: “We were tarrying until we should be endued with power from on high. We were praying for revival, and we did not know how God was going to answer our prayer, but we were sure He would answer, and the answer has come. And the answer is from Him. [51] In the prayer meetings of the Pentecost-touched church, power is given. When that power is given, then we can validly pray, with Boddy, “Open today doors of service and of confession, and give me boldness to enter in, in the power Thou hast given me.” [52]

The tract is pietistic, simplistic, and not much suited to contemporary tastes. In one or two places, it smacks of the prosperity gospel, though it does not shy away from speaking about suffering. [53] The most remarkable thing about it, however, is that it is above all else an extended prayer and paean of praise, in which Boddy simply gives glory to God for the wonder of new life and growth that come when ordinary people pray without restraint. For Boddy and his contemporaries, the continuum is a simple one: repent – receive – rejoice – respond.

The first Assemblies of God church that I worshipped in was in a former mining town in Nottinghamshire. I was struck as a young undergraduate by the easy confidence with which these miners and generally working class folk spoke of their Jesus, their faith, their mission. It was as if this mysterious ability to speak in tongues had given them many more tongues: to story-tell in their personal testimonies of lives that were radically changed; to preach, even on soapboxes in Nottingham’s Market Square, without shame, simply yet articulately; to proclaim Jesus and a vision of the Kingdom of God without inhibition, in the local idiom; and to pray with conviction, knowing that God was an active, healing, life-changing God.

Prayer as Mission: some concluding thoughts

The link between prayer and mission is a simple one. Prayer leads us deeper into an active relationship with a missional God, and the inevitable consequences are worship, service and mission, the three marks of the church. [54] When I launched the Simeon Centre for Prayer and the Spiritual Life in 2007, I said in my address that “I keep reminding myself that the energy of a centre for prayer is a listening ear, an obedient heart, and a driving passion to rediscover daily what it means to be friends with God – and to help others who cross our threshold to do the same.”

I then went on to say that the “passion of the Simeon Centre is to find people who are hungry for prayer, whether or not they know Jesus in a personal and intimate way yet, pray with them, and introduce them to Jesus. Let’s find out where God is at work in the people around us who don’t know him, and join in with God’s work.” In other words, if prayer is the language of our ongoing encounter with God, then inviting others to pray with us, whether or not we deem them to be disciples yet, must necessarily be at the heart of our missional task. Prayer makes disciples; in prayer disciples are transformed; and an apostolic church emerges.

‘I’m not religious, but I am spiritual’ is one of the enduring clichés of our age, a strapline of postmodernity. Suspicion of institutions of all kinds abounds, political and social, economic and ecclesial. In the face of difficulties about believing anything with a degree of assurance, and resistance to most forms of committed belonging, the surprising persistence of prayer ‘to an unknown God’ is surely a reminder to the church that prayer is one of the few contexts within which meaningful spiritual engagement and evangelism remain possible. The offer of prayer is rarely refused by the unchurched.

Let me end with a personal testimony, slightly adapted to preserve anonymity. Some years ago I went to a baptism in a Pentecostal church in the Midlands. It had been a small, struggling, prayerful, inward-looking fellowship for many years. A few faithful women (and they were mostly women) had kept it alive. There’s no formula for what happened next, but faithfulness in prayer and faithfulness to God’s work were somehow central. Now, the church having grown to a respectable 100 or so on a council estate, four people were to be baptised. One was a young man with Down’s syndrome and a deep fear of water. The second was a middle-aged man with a failed marriage and a recovered faith. The third woman was a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, and the last had come into the church in a wheelchair, been prayed for, got out of her wheelchair and never returned to it. I wept my way through their four testimonies and baptisms. I often wish that I could belong to a church like that.

But I’m not sure that I have it in me to belong there. I’m too impatient. I want quick results, and I suffer from the temptation to dismiss churches that don’t seem to be missional. This church in particular for so long seemed to have lost its way, and I thought little of it. Now that I’ve been privileged to see the end of this part of their story, I’ve learnt yet again that prayer whose primary aim is to achieve results is of little worth. It has to be enough that I pray because of who God is. God is faithful and his mission will be done. In prayer, I too will be part of it.

About the author

Adrian Chatfield is a fellow of Ridley Hall Cambridge and a mentor/spiritual director in the East Midlands.

More from this issue


[1] With acknowledgement to Jean Daniélou, Prayer: The Mission of the Church, (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996), 9.
[2] Sebastian Karotemprel, (ed), 1995, Following Christ in Mission: A Foundational Course in Missiology, (Nairobi: Paulines, 1995), 135.
[3] C Rene Padilla, Spirituality in the Life and Mission of the Church (Edinburgh 2010 Study Group 9), 1
[4] Daniélou, op.cit.
[5] Opening of the Shorter Westminster Catechism of 1647.
[6] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Chapter 20, Section 8; 1536.
[7] Ian Randall, What a Friend we have in Jesus: The Evangelical Tradition, (London: DLT,2005), 37.
[8] ‘Remembrance’ in the NRSV and ‘name’ in NIV but ‘memory’ in John Goldingay’s translation. See John Goldingay,  Psalms Volume 1, (GrandRapids, Baker Academic,2006),  Kindle loc.9702-9704.
[9] Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, (Rochester VT: Bear and Company, 1983)
[10] Karl Barth, Prayer: 50th Anniversary Edition, (Louisville KY: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 5.
[11] Daniélou, op. cit. page 26
[12] This is martyrdom without blood or violence such as strict asceticism.
[13] For example, in the Tract on the Supreme Virtue of Gelassenheit by Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, in (Furcha EA, 2013), Fifteen tracts by Andreas Bodenstein (Carlstadt), (Scottdale PA: Herald Press, 1995).     
[14] Laura Swan, Forgotten Desert Mothers, The: Sayings, Lives, and Stories of Early Christian Women, (Mahwah NJ: Paulist Press, 2001), 37.
[15] κοινόβιον or ‘coenobium’ from κοινός (common) + βίος (life).
[16] 6th century.
[17] ‘officium’ or work of the people in relation to the worship of God
[18] Luke Benedict and Dysinger, The Rule of St Benedict: Latin & English, (Santa Ana CA: Source Books, 1996), Prologue 45.
[19] Society of the Sacred Mission.
[20] Community of the Resurrection.
[21] Society of St John the Evangelist.
[22] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, (London: SCM, 1954), 7.
[23] Ibid, pages 20 & 22.
[24] Phil. 1:21.
[25] Canon 1, quote in S Coupland, ‘Rod of God’s wrath or the people of God’s wrath? The Carolingian theology of the Viking invasions’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 1991; 42. 
[26] Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, New Monasticism: What it has to say to today’s church, (Grand Rapids MI: Brazos, 2008).
[27] ibid, 58.
[28] ibid, 39.
[29] [3] to respond to human need by loving service, [4] to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
[30] ibid, 39, Mark 6.
[31] Graham Cray, et al (eds), New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church, (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2010), 6.
[32] Herbert Kelly, Principles: Society of the Sacred Mission¸ (Kelham: SSM, 1909), Principle vii.
[33] James Wiseman, Spirituality and Mysticism, (New York: Orbis,2006),  9.
[34] ibid, page 10, quoting Bernard McGinn, The Foundations of Mysticism, (New York: Crossroad, 1991), xvi.
[35] Mark 10.46ff.
[36] Helen Bacovcin, The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim continues his Way, (New York: Doubleday, 1978), 23.
[37] Bernard McGinn, John Meyendorff  & Jean Leclercq, Jean, Christian Spirituality: Origins to the 12th Century, (New York: Crossroad,1993), 406. Hesychia (ἡσυχία) is quietness or stillness in the Orthodox tradition.
[38] Bacovcin, op.cit,  25.
[39] Brother Ramón, and Simon Barrington-Ward, Praying the Jesus Prayer Together, (Oxford: BRF 2001), 23.
[40] John Baildam, Paradisal Love: Johann Gottfried Herder and the Song of Songs, (Sheffield: Academic Press, 2009), 140.
[41] G R Evans, Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works, (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), 223.
[42] Kathleen Jones, tr., The Poems of St John of the Cross, (Tunbridge Wells: Burns & Oates, 1993), 20f.
[43] Evans, op.cit, 224.
[44] R A Knox, Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion with special reference to the 17th and 18th centuries, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1950), 1.
[45] ibid, page 554.
[46] Velli-Matti Kärkkäinen, ‘The Pentecostal Understanding of Mission’, in  Wonsuk Ma, Velli-Matti Kärkkäinen, & Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, eds (2014), Pentecostal Mission and Global Christianity (Oxford: Regnum, 2014), 34.
[47] Steven Land, Pentecostal Spirituality: A Passion for the Kingdom, (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 95ff.
[48] Isa. 30.15 NRSV.
[49] Alexander Boddy, (1907 republished as ebook by Full Well Ventures, 2012), A Vicar’s Testimony: “Pentecost” at Sunderland.
[50] ibid, Kindle locs.41-44.
[51] ibid, Kindle locs.183-185.
[52] ibid, Kindle loc.392
[53] It is worth noting that though “for the last sixteen years of her life, she [Mary Boddy] was an invalid… she still ministered healing to others.” Stanley M Burgess and Gary B McGee (eds ), Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1988), 91.
[54] I often use these as the three marks of the church, and often wonder why the Lambeth Conference of 1988 gave us five marks of mission but has never seen fit to give the prior marks of the church. I would be interested to know if any readers have similar lists!