made the grade?

August 18th, 2016

On results day for so many young people across the UK, and following what came out of our prayer time at the start of exam season, and our prayer time for them this morning, we wanted to share this prayer so we can all pray with and for them about what matters most:


A prayer for those getting exam results

For all those asking:
“are my grades enough?”
Or even “am I enough?”
Father, let nothing drown out your truth:
“You are loved just as you are;
you are worth so much more
than the sum of your marks,
achievements or ambitions.”

And for all those celebrating
the satisfaction of reaching or exceeding
the goals they – or others around them – set,
Father, let them still hear your truth:
“You are loved for who you are;
you are worth so much more
than the sum of your marks,
achievements or ambitions.”

And for all those who feel
their grades define their future
or determine their path,
Father, help them to see
that it is your love that defines them
and determines their future
and that you are for them, and with them
and ahead of them with hope.


olympic prayer

August 8th, 2016

We’ve just uploaded a new resource – created for the little windows at our centre, and shared with you too – to help everyone bless the Olympics and the good they have the potential to do. Our simple visual prayer points and written prayer can be downloaded as a PPT to project or a PDF to print – whatever’s most helpful for you…


We’d also like to recommend that you further fuel your prayers by keeping an eye on UNHCR’s blog on #TeamRefugees and that you share these amazing Struggle and Triumph films from Athletes in Action as widely as you possibly can – and make sure you don’t miss out on watching them too!

Let’s pray together now:

Christ the Redeemer,
as the world watches the scenes gathered beneath your memorial in Rio,
we come to you – our loving, living God – knowing you watch over every one of your global children there… and here.
You know even more than us just how much our world needs to come together at this time.
Bless these games to truly build love and peace; protect Brazil and every person currently in Rio; and open the world’s arms to mirror yours, so that all refugees can finally  be welcomed in.

the brewing and blessing goes on…

August 5th, 2016

It’s lovely that we’re still receiving feedback and encouragement in response to our Brew up… and Bless! creative outreach give-away and feedback for Yorkshire. Here are three new responses from the last couple of days that are just our cup of tea!

the perfect brew

On Wednesday, one of our gift-givers sent us this image – entitled ‘the perfect brew’ which someone he knows who had received a gift had forwarded on to him.  Great to see the tea-bag and magnet in action in a setting that really suggests it’s a proper cup of builder’s tea!

And then on Thursday, this article was published by the Ilkley Gazette, which is an edited version of the release we sent them – the author of the prayer got confused, but the author is so thrilled with Alison’s work, she’s more than happy for her to get extra credit!

Ilkley gazette article

And then today, we received a thank you note through the post from someone we’ve never met who lives in North Yorkshire! He had taken the trouble to write to encourage us because he knows (we don’t know how!) one of the shop-keepers we gave a gift to on Yorkshire Day, who also received a YouAreLOVED card on Valentine’s Day…

Anyway, here’s just a bit of what he said:

“What a wonderfully kind gesture to present [person’s name he knows] with your innovative gifts and prayer card to celebrate Yorkshire Day. Your ‘Loved’ gift a few months ago was met with equal gratitude. I personally feel that this is a positive and much appreciated way of bringing Christianity in to the community.”


At the Sanctuary we have a little phrase – encouragement is the currency of the kingdom – and it is so true. People have no idea – especially those who proactively take so much trouble to find our contact details and get in touch just to say thank you for something – how much difference it can make to our work, or how often it is timed so exquisitely to arrive just when it’s most needed…

Like two weeks ago, when after a very difficult day, we received an email from a lady who lives miles away and drove past our lighthouse window on the way back home from visiting a relative in difficult circumstances in the Lake District. We couldn’t believe that after driving all that way and in such a challenging context, she took the time and trouble to find out who we are and email us about how our window had helped her to sense God’s peace and transform how she was feeling as she sat in slow traffic on the hottest day of the year coming back from such a hard time.

It is pure gold to hear these stories. It’s not why we do anything we do. But hearing what God is doing to reach out and bless people above and beyond how we could have possibly planed or imagined is just wonderful. It’s like a treasure trail of blessing! He is so good and creative, and so, so kind to encourage us by giving us yet more glimpses of his work through us and beyond us.

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing these stories too… happy weekend! Someone put the kettle on…

all poured out…

August 2nd, 2016

What a brilliant time we had yesterday, pouring out a beautiful blessing for Yorkshire Day that we’d been brewing up for months…

brew up and bless

We gave out 500 of these beautiful gifts, which included two customised Fairtrade tea-bags and a bespoke fridge magnet and postcard featuring our very own brewing prayer. Find out more and read the prayer here

BrewUpAndBless gift

We started just after 3pm and by 4:30 we had only empty baskets left! But as members of our praying community sat round them at 5PM prayers yesterday, we looked at them with even more of a sense of celebration than we had done when we’d managed to make enough gifts to fill them all…

This was because of the memories of all the smiles, laughter and conversations we’d had with the hundreds of Ilkley workers, residents and visitors who’d received the gift earlier that afternoon. There was just so much joy in it all. People’s faces lit up at the gift – especially when they realised it was focused on Yorkshire’s shared love of tea!

Lots of people said they could never say no to a brew! And many others commented straight away on Alison Helliwell-Hodson’s stunning artwork.

It was great to receive thank you tweets from shops we have a growing relationship with and to have a conversation with one business owner in particular who was thrilled with her gift and also remembered  the roses we’d love bombed Ilkley with for Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

Best of all – as ever – is knowing that as well as that moment of connection when we give the gifts to people, smile and have a chat, the gift keeps on giving as it goes home with the person. Perhaps this year, the magnets and brewing prayer postcards will stay on people’s fridges even after they’ve drunk the brew made from those special Brew Up and Bless tea-bags…

One thing’s for certain though… the day had a special flavour that’s lingering well into today.

And actually the pouring out isn’t all quite done, because the window remains to keep infusing that joy into our community throughout August…

Yorkshire Day may be over but Yorkshire people’s love of tea isn’t, and passers by and car passengers are still stopping to look at – and take photos of – the artwork and brewing prayer displayed at the Sanctuary:

BrewUpAndBless window lead

It is such a blessing to share God’s love, beauty and generosity with people!


brew up… and bless!

August 1st, 2016

Tea plays a key role in our ministry as well as the culture of our region and the UK as whole, so it’s no surprise that it’s provided the central metaphor for our Yorkshire Day creative outreach. But the idea itself came in a time of prayer, so we’re struggling to take credit for it…

BrewUpAndBless window lead

But we’re not struggling to give credit to the wonderful artist who took the brewing and blessing concept to the next level. Alison Helliwell-Hodson is Ilkley based and has been a precious member of our praying community ever since its early days when she offered to paint the mural that had formed part of our initial vision for the Sanctuary’s space.

Her #BrewUpAndBless artwork packs a punch from a distance, but the detail when you get close up is astounding. Just beautiful.

We’ve used it not just to display in our window – along with our brewing prayer and some tea bag mobiles! – but also to form the basis for making 500 bespoke Yorkshire Day handmade gifts to give out to shopkeepers and residents in Ilkley at teatime this afternoon:

BrewUpAndBless gift

The gifts (which include a postcard, fridge magnet and two customised Fairtrade tea-bags) feature another bespoke creation – our brewing prayer:

BrewUpAndBless postcard back

BrewUpAndBless postcard front

BrewUpAndBless tea bag

BrewUpAndBless magnet

We’re so grateful to the more than twenty pray-ers who came in throughout Thursday and Friday to make up the gifts. There was such a fun, loving atmosphere as we crafted them together. And as you can imagine, the kettle worked harder than anyone, brewing up constant fuel for the workers…

We’re really looking forward to writing our next blog tomorrow and being able to let you know just how blessed people have been as a result of so many people coming together and giving their time, talents, prayer and resources so generously.

But meanwhile, it’s our prayer that our window, gifts and social media activity for Yorkshire Day this year will share a powerful image of God’s love poured out for us, bring people together around a shared love of tea and Yorkshire and inspire gratitude – and perhaps even prayer – for the welcoming and community building spirit that characterises so many of Yorkshire’s people and places.

It’s our heart too that our brewing prayer might bless people well beyond Yorkshire. The recent EU referendum revealed many divisions in UK society, and the headlines have been full of acts of hatred. Gathering around a cup or pot of tea together is a very simple thing – as is prayer. Anyone can do them, but they are both powerful ways to re-build hopeful, loving communities.

Wherever you live, why not join in by praying with us now?

Stir up in me –
and everyone in my neighbourhood –
an energising, rich flavour
of robust, resilient love,
for family, for friend… and for community.
So that like the very best cups of tea,
we can all offer real comfort
and come alongside each other in uncertain times
til our society can again be infused
with the refreshing flavour
of kind words spoken
and people gathered together to build with hope.
God who poured out your very self for us,
brew up a blessing in us – and through us – I pray.


prayer stations inspired by psalm 119

July 27th, 2016

At the Sanctuary, one of the stimuli for our daily prayer rhythm is the psalms. We cycle around them, taking a different one each day. Psalm 119 is the longest, but we are always delighted when it comes round! It is so rich and full – we’re big fans. When it came round last week, Jonny Rudd was the pray-er leading our morning session. He created this series of five prayer stations inspired by different sections of the psalm. We loved them, so we wrote them up to share in the hope they will bless you too.

Psalm 119


sheet music for: simply surrendered

July 25th, 2016

We’re delighted to let you know that our brilliant volunteer sheet music scorer – Cherry Gilbard – has finished scoring the sheet music for simply surrendered. This means the sheet music is now available for every song on our album: Moving with his heart. Visit our dedicated page to order CDs and/or to download all the songs, chord sheets and sheet music for free.

TSCD_Digi Cover_HR_low res

We describe Simply Surrendered as the Sanctuary’s journey song – or song of ascent – and it is dedicated to our first Chair of Trustees and vital supporter, Anne Garside.

It’s a song which rings with the sound of faith, trust and wonder that characterised the season of the Sanctuary’s set-up that it was written in. It’s very special to us and we hope it will bless you too.

creative idea for praying about building peace

July 11th, 2016

This creative prayer idea resource for praying about building peace was inspired by God being the ultimate Peace-maker. Together we examined how peace is built – and the hard work and counter-cultural hearts that often go into achieving it – and then prayed for peace to be built in our communities and the whole of the UK given the atmosphere surrounding the EU Referendum campaign, Brexit outcome and resulting context. But you could use this resource to pray for peace-building in any place or situation.

building peace 5

creative idea for praying for protection

July 8th, 2016

We’ve uploaded a new creative idea resource, inspired by Psalm 91, which we found incredibly powerful in praying for protection over refugees, but could be used to intercede about people in any dangerous context:

Under the shadow of his wing

a lesson in sparrows

July 4th, 2016

Last month, two of our team (Fiona Schneider and Liz Baddaley) spent some time in Zermatt, Switzerland with ICS. Mountains and mission… it was a great week all round as people from many nations were touched by God’s love.  But as Liz sat eating lunch in the town square one day, she learned one thing in particular she felt everyone connected with the Sanctuary would appreciate hearing about when she got back…

sparrow 1

“Sparrows are common. Everyone knows that. They’re not on the list of must-see sights to take in anywhere you visit. But they’re special to me.

I’m an all-round animal lover and these small garden birds are no exception. They are so intricately crafted, and make such distinctive, delicate movements with their heads. And you rarely get very close to them before they fly away in fear.

84 has been my favourite psalm for years because it expresses such longing and delight to be in God’s presence, and sparrows make an appearance in it… they are described as having found a place (together with the swallows) right by God’s altar – they are valued and welcomed right in; how much more so then are we?

Jesus talks about sparrows too, saying that God loves them enough to know when even just one falls – and urging us therefore to know just how much more deeply we are loved… for we have so much more value.

So sparrows have become associated for me with our access to God’s presence and our preciousness to him – seeing them is like a promise with bones and feathers on. And this has only been increased since I formed a worship busking duo with Anya Faull called sparrow song – partly inspired by these scriptures and partly by the fact that sparrows are not song birds, so any melody they could offer would have to be a supernatural gift to them… and those who heard them.

So as I sat eating my lunch in the town square of a beautiful Alpine town, it was unsurprising that although they had none of the mountain grandeur or fresh, foreign appeal of my other surroundings, a number of sparrows coming seemingly impossibly near to me literally made my heart sing. Because after all, as I have shared, they have great value to me.

I couldn’t believe how close they came! Schooled in getting a feast of bread scraps from the array of delicious deli sandwiches being eaten by different visitors, they knew it was worth the risk to wait for food only centimetres away from my feet. And the braver ones were soon on the seat next to me, and on the back of the bench courageously edging even further towards me.

I loved feeding them the flakes from my crispy bread – and of course they came even closer still then. And stayed.

I got to watch these sparrows in a way I had never done before and it was one of the highlights of my day – and even my whole time in Switzerland. Because it delighted me to be so close to something I place such worth in…

It was special in itself, but it was also a moment of seeing with greater clarity just how much God delights when we choose to come close to him – just how much his heart rejoices to share good things with us.

But my admittedly somewhat whimsical reflections were soon interrupted by stamping and shouting.

It was coming from another bench in the park area – or more accurately from the couple who were sitting on the bench. They had some tame sparrow visitors too, but there was no delight in it for them. They saw the sparrows as inconvenient, or perhaps even as vermin.

I could tell this because their hearts betrayed themselves every time one of the tiny birds came close. Their faces were twisted into angry frustration and they stamped and shouted so that the sparrows fled.

I genuinely felt grieved in that moment. And it just struck me again, deeper than ever, that our actions towards things – and people – come out of how our hearts value them – or don’t value them.

I didn’t have to try to be nice to the sparrows – I didn’t feel I was doing them a favour or engaged in an activity that was ‘the right thing’; I was just genuinely just delighted to spend that time with them, give them a feast and see how close they would come – and all because of their deep worth to me.

It was such a clear picture of how people treat each other on the basis of how they perceive – as precious and intricately created or as an intrusion on, or distraction from, their own agenda…

And lest you think for a moment I am holding myself up as any kind of example through this lesson in sparrows, I’m still searching my heart over a strong suspicion that I would not have been half so overjoyed if my peaceful lunch-break had been disturbed by someone made in God’s own image, rather than by a few little, brown birds.”

sparrow 2