Colin reports on the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

Christians in Politics Director Colin Bloom attended the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast at Westminster Hall along with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and 700 other church leaders, diplomats and MPs. He shares with us some of his thoughts.

Anyone who can drop in the line, “I was talking to the Pope yesterday” with absolute nonchalance and not a hint of bragging deserves applause. And applause Archbishop Justin Welby got, receiving a lengthy standing ovation from those in attendance at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast this year. The applause was not – I’m certain – for his casual name drops, but because he spoke with strength and passion about the role of the Church and Christians in this country and indeed throughout the world.

I have attended a number of National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfasts in the past, but I can say without doubt that the event last Tuesday topped them all. Added to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s superb and unflinching speech was the fact that both the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition was in attendance (a first in history) along with an encouraging number of MPs, peers, diplomats and church leaders. All contributed to what was a significant occasion of prayer for this nation and the world and of worship to God in the heart of Westminster.

Having both David Cameron and Ed Miliband in attendance demonstrated the growing understanding among politicians that Christianity has a vital role to play in modern society. Tuesday morning felt like the culmination of what has been a steady reversal in the secularisation of the public square.  

Politicians are recognising the immense force for good that Christians are in society: serving communities, coming alongside the needy and blessing the poor. But as the Archbishop reminded us, the Church is more than just an NGO and Christians are more than just ‘useful’. He stated that fundamental to being a Christian is knowing Jesus Christ and that through a relationship with Him, Christians find the strength, the courage and the conviction to go into those places of need and suffering. As the Prime Minister, David Cameron himself recognises, this is not just to be encouraged but to be emulated by those in government.

My only disappointment from the morning came with the announcement that the prayer breakfast won’t be returning next year because of the 2015 General Election. I for one hope that this decision is reversed. We need to keep up the current momentum of ensuring that when it comes to politics, Britain not only ‘does God’ but also ‘does Jesus’.  

But until next year let’s just recognise the unique window of opportunity that is being held open to the Church in this country. As we were reminded on Tuesday, around the world the Church is under huge amounts of oppression. In this country let’s give thanks and recognise that politicians are showing a desire to engage with the Church. Our job now is to work at what comes next.