Skip to content

Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Kingdom Come logo on a world map with bright light spots

Sunday 12 May
Year B, The Seventh Sunday of Easter: White
(The Sunday after Ascension Day)


  • Psalm 1: 1-6
  • [Ezekiel 36: 24-28]
  • Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26
  • 1 John 5: 9-13
  • John 17: 6-19

(The reading from Acts should be used as either the first or second reading.)


This Sunday follows Ascension Day (40 days after Easter and so therefore always on a Thursday), which marks the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven. It is also the Sunday before Pentecost, which marks the sending of the Holy Spirit to empower the church. The time between these two events has, since early times, been kept as what is known as a novena of prayer. Novena comes from the Latin for nine and the first novena of prayer is thought to have been the nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost, when the disciples are reported to have stayed in the upper room devoting themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14).

Over time this custom has been celebrated and amplified and more recently has grown from a local invitation from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury in 2016, into an international and ecumenical call to prayer movement known as Thy Kingdom Come (TKC). TKC has an excellent website with more information and encouragement, along with free-to-download resources for individuals and churches, which I thoroughly recommend.

There are opportunities to join in with TKC across the diocese, including deanery events and pilgrimages, which earth TKC in the local. Also, a special evensong at Sheffield Cathedral on Sunday 12th May at 4.00pm and a beacon event at St John’s Owlerton on Sunday 19th at 6.30pm. Further details about these can be found on the dedicated diocesan TKC webpage here.


The intention stated on the TKC website is ‘to pray for more people to come to know Jesus’ and with this ambition in mind it invites us specifically to pray for five people we know to do just that. This is obviously a great idea and let’s all join in!

However, the TKC novena is also an opportunity to pray for help in assessing and deepening our own walk with God, both as individuals and church. Rowan Williams once said that, ‘Mission is seeing what God is up to and joining in’. This involves some real discernment work for us. While TKC can be about asking God for specific things, it is also a good opportunity to abide awhile with God, intentionally reflecting on what God is indeed doing and being open to what God might be saying to us.

The discipline of a longer period of prayer makes this more possible.

I remember a 24/9 event (24/9 not 7 as it was over these nine days) at a cathedral in a previous diocese where a prayer station was set up in the chapterhouse and occupied for the whole of the novena. I put my name down on the rota for a few sessions, including a very late evening one not long before Pentecost.

After the usual time of distraction and drifting as I settled down to pray, there was still ages left to go. There was nothing else to do but relax and allow myself to be enveloped by the time and space and turn to God. It was a real blessing. I can still vividly recall the closeness to God I felt in a space that was being prayed in so intensely. I also remember leaving that place after two hours and emerging to the absolute joy of standing in the cloisters, listening to the midnight wildlife and looking at the stars in wonder and praise of our creator.

So What?

I once read somewhere (although cannot remember where in order to credit it) that no one ever left themselves or the world worse off by too much prayer. Obviously, we don’t have a monopoly on prayer! However, one of our key tasks must surely be to enable and give opportunity for people to pray. Prayer can of course take many different shapes and forms, and should happen all year round. But TKC seems a great ready-made FM opportunity to join in with something well-established and resourced, and tailor it to meet the needs of our local congregations and communities.

It may be a little late in the day for us to arrange TKC events in our own parishes this time around. (Although brilliant if you have done – please let us know!) However, I wonder if we might go along to a planned event this year, with a view to offering something across the nine days at our own church next year?