“Somewhere in the dead of night a nun was praying and I knew it”

Ahead of the Hidden Houses of Prayer event at Liverpool Cathedral on October 28th we spoke to Revd Philip Roderick about his inspiration and vision for the Hidden Houses of Prayer network

Colin confessed it had been a rough night. A night, like many, in which he contemplated suicide but stopped himself through the sense in the depths of his being,  that someone, somewhere was praying for him. Colin shared with Philip that he  didn’t know who it was but he knew that in the dead of night a nun was praying for him. That made a world of difference. Because he knew there was prayer happening.

That encounter in the early seventies with Colin - someone he had never met before – left  Philip Roderick with an invitation, a challenge, a nudge that percolated through his own thoughts and prayers over the next three decades. It was not until 2010, when Philip was Bishop’s Adviser in Spirituality in the Diocese of Sheffield, that he was moved to share  the vision that was to result in The Hidden Houses of Prayer movement.

With a long involvement  in spiritual education,  Philip knew the quiet power of prayer, but he also realised that there was an urgent call to all God’s people to pray in many different ways and contexts, and especially in their own homes. For centuries we could guarantee that in the monasteries and convents across the world people were praying. Simply and silently holding the needs of the world before God, day and night, just as Jesus did Nowadays, there are far fewer monks and nuns dedicated to prayer. The challenge? God is calling us, many, many of us, within and far beyond the Hidden Houses of Prayer network to be centred on God. We celebrate the many different resources that  enable the body of Christians to be a people of prayer-in-action on Christ’s Way of Love.

“The idea  of Hidden Houses of Prayer is that the place where people live – a flat, house, cottage, caravan, even a hospital ward or prison cell – can provide an everyday context in which rich and real prayer can happen. This is a simple prayer of  holding people and concerns before God; prayerfully loving people, projects and even nations who may be absent but who are close in the Spirit.” explained Philip “From the extraordinary Lord’s Prayer to tears of lament, from the simplest ways of praying around the house to the savouring of biblical texts and teachings, we can all get stuck in, and we all most definitely need it!”

Philip is the initiator and will be one of the presenters at the Hidden Houses of Prayer event which takes place as a day workshop in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel on Saturday   October 28th. Alongside Bishop Paul and local GP and prayer champion Naomi Dunne, Philip aims to help resource participants on “blessing in the mess of things”, receptive to the wounded world and the fragility of life
“I am fascinated by prayer”, says Philip “it’s like the petrol for the car or oil for the engine and we hope on this day to show that hidden prayer  is something people of all ages and backgrounds can do and delight in.”

Philip hopes that by gathering people on October 28th the three presenters, the beauty of cathedral space and the grace of the Holy Spirit will be able to encourage more people to reflect upon and participate in different ways of home-based praying. Through storytelling, empathy and encouragement, Philip believes that we can enhance a gift that has been with us since creation, the relationship with the God of love who charges us with hearing, discerning  and responding to the pressing needs of the world.

“We pray in the hiddenness of home,” he states. “In faith we can hold before God in prayer those who suffer in so many different ways. So, if there is another Colin in the depths of despair in the wee hours of the morning he, or she, will know interiorly that there is indeed  someone praying for them at their point of need.”