In the current issue of Day by Day with God
Find out more about Day by Day with God May to August 2014:
People looking at Britain from other parts of the world through our secular media are likely to see the UK church as largely a spent force - good for pomp and ceremony on national occasions, but divided, dry and in decline. But that is not a true picture. Behind the scenes there is so much life and vitality.
I have a dream that this year, where there are divided, dry bones of church life scattered across our country, they will come together as never before, as once again God's word becomes flesh and moves into neighbourhoods in new ways (John 1:14).
In practical terms, that means churches with different theological perspectives focusing on what we have in common - which is Jesus - and making a difference in our neighbourhoods through things like food banks, Street Pastors or parent and toddler groups, to name but three of the multitude of church-based community projects. It also means being able to give reasons for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15), backing up actions with words.
As God breathes his life into his church, Ezekiel's vision of a living, breathing army (see Diana Archer's notes on 17 July) becomes a reality - a 'good news' army - as the church stands together and Jesus is recognised through our unity. Jesus prayed that this unity would happen so that the whole world will discover God and his love (John 17:23).
As churches across the country are working together in mission this year as part of HOPE 2014, several Day By Day With God contributors have focused on the theme of hope. They encourage us to approach God using all our senses and to cultivate intimacy with our loving heavenly Father. Many people in our world struggle to accept themselves and others because they fail to discover how much God loves them; many Christians also battle to overcome unbelief in this area. As you use Jesus' pattern for praying ('Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven), pray that God's amazing heavenly love will be fleshed out in your life and passed on to the people you meet.
As we use these notes through the coming months, we will celebrate Pentecost, remembering the beginning of the Church and the coming of God's Holy Spirit. I'm praying that God's Holy Spirit will fill you afresh, breathing God's life into all you do, so that your every move is inspired by his Spirit and overflowing with his love.
Approaches to prayer
Anne Le Tissier
24 May-7 June
22 June-5 July
Faith in tough times
20 July-2 August
Beryl Adamsbaum, wife, mother and grandmother, a former language teacher living on the border of France and Switzerland, has ministry opportunities in both countries. She has had five books published.
Diana Archer works as a freelance writer, editor and theologian. She runs www.tastelifeuk.org, a charity set up to help people break free from eating disorders. The Tastelife course includes support for carers too, and is available to buy.
Lyndall Bywater lives in Canterbury with her husband, her housemate, her assorted guide dogs and a cat. She is passionate about prayer: writing about it, promoting it and training people in it.
Anita Cleverly has been in church leadership for 30 years. She loves church, people and prayer, and has written about them all in her book Destiny's Children. She and Charlie have four married children and eight grandchildren so far.
Anne Coomes is editor of parishpump.co.uk, a resource website for church magazine editors. She writes books for LionHudson and is a Reader at Holy Trinity, Hurdsfield, near Macclesfield.
Heather Coupland loves working alongside her husband, who is a vicar in Kingston-upon-Thames. Her passions are mums-and-toddlers groups, ministry to women, going on retreat and spending time with her daughter.
Molly Dow, a retired bishop's wife, grandmother of seven, and Anglican Reader, has produced courses on prayer and spirituality, written Mountains and Molehills and, with her husband, co-written When He Comes.
Anne Le Tissier regularly writers to teach and encourage Christians but is aslo trying ot establish herself as a writer in the secular world, with a passion to bring the reality of faith to readers with apathetic, cynical or atheist views. Anne also teaches wine appreciation and plays sax, flute, piano and bodhran.
Chris Leonard lives in Surrey with her husband. With two children recently married, she remains busy leading creative writing courses and holidays. Her 20th book was published in August 2013.
Sandra Wheatley remains as active as possible, despite the constraints of MS and a wheelchair. She enjoys an extensive prayer ministry and has mastered swimming and praying at the same time!