David Hill - "TryPraying"
8:07AM Jul 9, 2020
Jonathan J. Armstrong
It's our privilege today to be speaking with David Hill. David Hill is the founder of the UK based charity, there is hope, and also the creator of the International campaign. Try praying. David, thank you so much for your time today. David, we understand that you are the creator of this international campaign, try praying. And there's a popular prayer guide and app by the same name. How did you come across this idea for this international campaign?
Well, it was a totally random conversation that I had with somebody. I wasn't looking to do anything like this at all. But it's about 10 years ago now. I was at a conference in Scotland. And and in fact, I, at the time, we been involved in writing a 40 day prayer guide, and I met somebody at the conference who explained that her aunt had become a Christian. Because of this 40 day prayer guide, I thought, well, that's absolutely wonderful. But I thought that's the most inappropriate piece of literature to give a non Christian. And I thought it was just, it's just a simple light bulb moment. Why don't we write a prayer guide for people who aren't religious and don't do church. And it took me some time to tease out the idea. I thought somebody must have done this. Somebody must have come up with something like this, but I couldn't find it. So I ended up, I ended up writing it, which is a bit of a joke because I hate prayer guides. I lose the will to live when I get prayer guide. So I ended up writing one, How's about that? But I wrote it and it's a little visual aid. Here we are. So there it is. Try praying. It's a seven. It's a seven day prayer guide. as we like to say the decent self respecting agnostic to be able to use without perjuring themselves and it just takes a person for point zero, really a person who's open it wants to find out about God, but it's got the gospel in it. And over the course of seven days, they run a high risk of becoming a Christian by the end. So. So that's where the idea came from. And at some time ago now, and I suppose I should say that there were one or two key moments in the whole process. I never would have thought try praying would have developed to the extent that it has. But shortly before it was printed the first addition, I just felt it was a nudge from the Lord. I got very few nudges from God, but this was a very definite nudge. And I felt him asked me how is it going to be used? Because what the church does not need is another resource on prayer. The churches have got thousands of resources on prayer. So just a simple back of the envelope Two Minute thought strategy for a church project and and it goes goes like this one week everybody in the congregation gets a copy of the tribe brain book that and they use it themselves it can be said that and encouraged in exactly the right way for our congregation. You know, you're all Christians here, you've all got wonderful prayer lives. Haha. And and this is for non Christians but just use it yourself this week. And so that's week one and then week two the next week everybody is encouraged to pray for a god given opportunity to give this booklet to a friend or a colleague or somebody I bump into and simply say Look, why don't you try praying for a week and see what happens in your life. So that was that was it it was all it was a moment but it was just a strategy for a church project. Use it and lose it. So that was the booklet and then the strategy for church and things that began to develop from there. You've involved
in Christian ministry for many years. When did prayer become a particular focus for you personally?
Well, that's a very good question. Of course, I'd like to say right at the start, but I think I heard one of your earlier interviewees talking about Jay Edwin or I think it was a month ago. And I saw a video recording a jade win or speaking of the Dallas prayer conference in 1973. I think it was on the role of prayer and spiritual awakening. And it's, it's 20 to 23 minutes of church history, revival church history. Well, I watched that as years ago. Now, it's decades ago when I watched it, and those 23 minutes transformed my life. It was astounding. It wasn't biblical encouragement or exhortation or teaching about prayer. It was simply what God has done in us. Prayer. And I thought, we are just paddling in the shallows in terms of what we're seeing take place. And we need to we need to pray to a big God who can do big things. So that whole revival strand, became a bit of a driver for me in a number of things that I've done over the years since then. And so that's been that's been very important to me.
Thank you. At what point David, did you realize that this try praying campaign would go internationally? I understand that you've just brought the campaign to Australia and the US.
Well, yeah, again, that was a great surprise to me. We were when I had the idea and the first development of it into a printed booklet. I was living in Yorkshire, in England, that's about halfway up the British Isles. And in case you didn't know I'm a Yorkshire man, actually. And you need to know that Yorkshire actually is the center of the world. But at the time we were living there. And without going into all the details, God led us back to Edinburgh where we'd live before. And I thought my my role was essentially to produce this booklet, and to make it available to churches, particularly in Edinburgh. And, and that was it, to see if it could become a multi church project in Edinburgh. quite early on and they in the process of coming back to Edinburgh, I was invited to speak at a prayer meeting. some wonderful people who pray in Hollywood, the parliament in Edinburgh. Every week that the parliament is sitting and I was invited to go and speak. I knew some of the people from before. So I went along and I told some stories about try praying and show them the booklet and so on and then they prayed.
Sir, so how can I describe this
They're not quiet prayers.
Just that one for about 15 people but it just really, as we say here they gave it some welly. And they really prayed huge encouragement and affirmation of the use of tribe praying. But there's somebody visiting that group. And she had she had I wasn't in never met her before, but she really had a gift of prophecy because she she said, This try praying thing is for the nation.
And and I thought, this isn't this isn't mock humility at all, but I thought it's only a booklet.
And then she corrected herself and then it actually this is the nation's plural. And I am just totally out of my depth here. I have absolutely no idea what is going on. But people were seeing in this far more than I was the original designer, the person who kind of branded the whole thing. Lovely Christian, with a kind of high Design Studio in Edinburgh. I, I gave her an earlier edition, and she was going to redesign it and brand it. And I said, Look, the point of this is that it's for the non Christian. And, and she I always remember the moment but her eyes filled with tears. And as you said, This is huge. And again, on the inside, I was saying it's only a booklet. So people were seeing in this far more than I was. So that's going back some time and and what has happened, just try and speed through some history that we ended up with a campaign in Edinburgh in the first year. And that threw 70 churches together to be involved in a simultaneous use of this, try praying, the use of lose it, strategy, and March and we also have bus advertising. So we wanted to put into public space. So So that was year one. And then the next two or three years it was being to seep out across Scotland, to other towns and cities. And then it began to seep out across across the UK. And then those little snippets of interest here, there and, and everywhere from other places. So I think I've kind of caught up with the the kind of bigger vision of this. But it took me probably about three years to realize this was a little bit more than a booklet for use it by churches in Edinburgh, because it has spread across across the UK. And it is it's in Australia, New Zealand in an embryonic way, and in the states as well. Two or three cities that are beginning to use it. So we're very excited about that. So we're seeing where it's going to go. We're just keeping, pushing it out and seeing where it gets to you. But it's just been a huge adventure.
Wow. What were some of the early stories floating back From the application of this booklet that most encouraged you.
Well, we do have a raft of stories that have come back to us. I have to say, I mean, it's worthwhile saying that there's there's a lot of ordinary in what's, what's going on. But some of the stories that have come back to us are extraordinary, which had been so thrilling. So I'll tell I'll tell you two or three. There's one for example, of a church in Dunfermline, which is just across the furthest fourth, you know, the geography is Edinburgh, and there's the see the first the fourth, and then Furman is across the sea there in faith. And so one of the ideas that a church leader came up with is to put a little perspex box outside the church on their railings, next next to a banner which says try praying that in the perspex box, a few timeframe, booklets and a notice for people to help themselves. So that was going on in the church. Along with that there's a remarkable lady in that church called Anne. And she has an incredible Ministry of going into one of the local parks and looking after, you know, some of the alcoholics and drug addicts, and she's done this for years, and you're just seeing that they're fed and safe and so on. So she was in this park one day, and she heard a mother and a daughter talking together and she joined the conversation, because the daughter was saying to the mother, so it's a little bit, a little bit detail the story, but you have to have kind of held on to the details, because there's a good punch line. So the the daughter was saying to the to the mother, she's looking forward to spending the money she had saved on her birthday presents. And the mother was saying, Well, I'm afraid you're not gonna be able to do that, because we need to use that money to buy food and pay for the electricity bill. So and join this conversation and said kind of help somehow and To cut a long story short she took to the local supermarket she bought them some food, pay the electricity bills, he bought them the woman coffee he bought the girl and ice cream gave us some money for a birthday. And the woman said to her, are you from that church? He said Why am I said happens? And she said well two days ago I picked up a train praying book that from that perspex box outside. And for the first time in my life I prayed that God would send somebody to help me and here are you helping me like this? Wow, great story. We have we just have a say a raft of stories. Another another good one actually. Slightly amusing, but I was. I was preaching at a church in Fife again. It's it happens north of Edinburgh and the people always like me to tell the latest news on trade. So I told the latest story that I've heard. And it was a story of somebody who come to faith. The route was, it was triplane booklet and an alpha cross. And then he'd been baptized in the sea in the Firth of Forth. And then Scotland only the brave do that. So, I told that story in this congregation and a man put his hand out and said, that was me. So my first reaction was, I hope I told that properly. So I said, well, let's have a have a coffee afterwards, and you tell me your story. So I listened to him. And the more he shared his story, the more I realized this was not the story that I'd heard. Because although his story was a tri frame booklet and an alpha cross, and then baptized, he had been baptized on the north side of the earth before and story I'd heard was, somebody had been baptized on the south side of the first floor. So two people had executive The same roots to faith. And it turns out we've managed to introduce them to each other. And they've been they were baptized about a week apart in the sea on the on the first of all, so that was a fun story. Wow. It actually just turned another little detail on that. So you got me on a roll here I'm telling stories but
the when I spoke with this guy, he's called Wilson
he's his wife is a Christian, and she had wanted him to become a Christian. He wasn't a Christian and she put the try praying booklet on their coffee table in their in their home. And he said that he just seemed like every day he came home, the train got closer to him where he sat. And he eventually picks it up. And he read it in bed that night, and he read it all in a warner rather than doing it a day at a time. He read it all in one hour. And when he finished it he simply He said he looked up from his bed and he said, Hello. And that was his prayer. And that was what started him on the journey to faith and then into the alpha cross and baptism. So
we we have said, we've got lots of stories just been really thrilling. I'll tell some more a bit later on. But I'm sure you've got another question. You've asked me. Praise God
for what he's doing. Those are genuinely amazing. Thank you very much. David, one of the things that we first noticed when we encounter the try praying literature or the try praying campaign is it's really beautifully done. The graphic design work is is gorgeous, the the app is smooth and very, very user friendly. So we say, how is it that technology in your view can help structure prayer? How is it technology can aid our prayer lives?
Hmm, well, I can't take any credit for the design of typewriting and the branding of it and things like that. That's been that's been other people which has been great. I do think that's been in And actually, I think some some, it's attractive and accessible is is very important. And I'm probably not the best person to answer that particular question. But I, my own thoughts in it are that obviously prayer is a person talking with the Lord. And it's and it's personal and it's, and it's articulation of needs and desires and so on to the Lord. So how can technology help in that? Well, I think only in the possibility of either motivating people to do it or of linking churches or linking Christians together to do it in some way or another. So for example, I heard if I attended a little, little prayer, an early morning prayer meeting in the church down there, London, and there are only about five or six people there. But there was one guy actually on his laptop, and everything that was being said and prayed in the in the prayer meeting, he was typing away and so on. And it turns out there were lots of other people who are listening in but there was being streaming Live to people who are commuting to work in London. So they're either listening to it on the tube or on the train or whatever. And joining in like that. So that's a good little way of connecting people together and helping to motivate them to pray.
That's one little detail. One idea. Yeah.
That's great. Thank you very much.
Yeah, there are there are good apps around and some
some better than others, I'm sure but there certainly are some good ones which help but the heart of it is people praying.
Even you want literature skates, that cry praying is for those who are not religious and don't do church and we understand that. At the original vision of try praying was this idea of having a prayer guide for those who are non religious. Can you talk to us a little bit about that? What is it that makes prayer transformative for people of all backgrounds, whether they're religious or have no religious background whatsoever?
Okay story, if I may.
So I personally have my business evangelistic conversations in the sauna. So, I'm not a great fitness fan, but I do get down to the gym once a week, and I have a sauna afterwards. And it's such a fascinating space in which to meet people. You're sat there with your clothes, but you don't have a lot of clothes on in a confined space. And, you know, what's, what's the rules? Do you talk or do you not? And so anyway, I just, I just try and see if I get into conversations and ask questions and find out how often they get down there and what they do and so on. And then sooner or later, this kind of switched the conversation and so so what do you do? And for me, that's just a great end. I say, well, it's bit hard to explain, but I am involved in this project in the city called try praying. Unlike is not there. So yeah, I've seen that. And so I can share my testimony and so on. Anyway, I was in the sauna one time so strange this so I was in the sauna. And there were two guys in there really must Killer guys, bodybuilder types got tattoos all over their arms and body. And they were talking kind of blokes body stuff about the exercises that they do. And they were teasing, all joking about another person who's got thin legs. He falls over when he plays football. So it's just that kind of conversation. So I was sitting there, I think there's no compensation for me here. But then one of them said, and this is to answer your question, actually. One of them said to the other, that things at home were really difficult. And things have been kicking off with his wife and him and his kids. And I was really messed up. He said, and I told him, he said, I prayed. And I told God, if he was to heal me, I'd stop being a bad person. And I couldn't believe what I was hearing. And I thought it's just a conversation I should get in on so but All time limited conversations in a sauna By this time, the two of them were just about to get out now. And I jumped in and said, Sir, so what happened? Tell me? And he said, Well, it was just that, you know, I was really in a mess. And I decided to pray. I said, I'm not I'm not a Christian or Muslim or anything. But I told God, that if he if he was to heal me out, stop being a bad person. And I used to mess people up. He used to get in a lot of fights and so on. And, and he said, that's exactly what happened. God healed me sorted out my life. And I've stopped being a bad person. So that guy is not a card carrying Christian Grace Church, evangelical, charismatic, whatever he is, he's just, it's kind of nowhere on that particular scale. But he's had an experience of God meeting his needs, and that's transformed his life. And I'd like to believe that that's the first step on a road which will lead him all the way through to faith in Jesus Christ. But that's, you know, to come down to your question. It's intuitive to so many people that when they're in a fix, they pray. I remember a conversation on a train with somebody. And I asked the guy, he was about 25 years old. And I said, if I just ask you to whether you're a religious person and whether you ever prayed, and he said, Well, I'm not at all religious, but I have prayed. I prayed once for somebody who's seriously ill, and they died. And I prayed for somebody else who's seriously ill and they got better. So I've got 50% success, he said, and that just led into a conversation so it's not prayer is not just about getting stuff. It's a relationship and getting to know God and so he had to be chatted for about 10 minutes. But then again, you know, 25 year old no connection with church or religion, but when there's a problem, people pray, and I think some are other try praying is kind of being able to Riding on that possibility because it's evangelism themed by prayer. And it just makes it accessible to, to people who do pray. They don't go to church necessarily, but they they will pray. And as I said earlier, the the booklet, and the app just leads a person to put their trust in Christ.
Give it if you were addressing a group of ministers, perhaps from an international background, and addressing on the importance of prayer, and maybe one of the pastors were to ask you, David, it seems to me like the church is under a lot of change. Right now. There's a lot of change that's needed. The rise of technology and other factors mean that all of our social institutions, businesses, schools, and also churches are facing a lot of pressures that require them to change. And maybe prayer is the front edge of how God is reshaping the church today. How would you respond to that idea? What What is the place of prayer in our churches Today,
good question. I think a lot of people would say, not enough. It's not it's not central enough. But so many church leaders and pastors would say, yes, you know, we have to get back to the essentials of, of our faith. And then prayer is, is just it needs to be number one. And along with that, I put evangelism as well, just really the communication of the gospel is absolutely central. So a church that is praying, whether that's many of you, and a church that sharing the gospel, I think they're absolutely essential, foundational to the life of any of any church.
David, if I can ask you a question that we've been asking all of the interviewees on this program, and that is this. What would it mean for the church to be united today? How would we recognize this unity and what is it that we can do as Christians today to pursue the Unity for which Jesus prays in john 17?
But I do smile At that, reading john 17. Jesus set the bar so high in terms of unity, water prayer, that they might be brought to complete unity as He and the Father were united. And that by this that the world would know. So, as I said, the bar is so high in terms of what the what the Unity could be, should be what he prayed for, and I guess it remains an unanswered prayer of Jesus still because we're not there at all. However, there are from time to time and in different places, good expressions of the unity that Christ pray for. And whether that's just at an individual level, you know, an individual meeting Christians or in a house group or whatever, just say, just a you know, a genuine appreciation and love for each other that can be there. That is a beautiful thing. That is an element of the unity,
it becomes a bit tricky when we start
putting that onto a macro level in terms of individual churches in a town or a city or denominations. That's where it begins to get a bit hard. I think there are nevertheless some some good expressions of unity. But in a lot of cities, there are there are unity movements that are springing up CERN in the UK. That is that is the case. But we don't want to overstate it because it's still something embryonic. But here in Edinburgh, there is a weekly prayer meeting that draws together church leaders from largely the kind of charismatic end of the church. But that said, just a wonderful prayer meeting meeting once a week. But there's also three times a year something I've been involved in leading something called transforming Edinburgh, and that draws Well, probably about 50 or so church leaders together from different churches, broader strata of church as it were. So these kind of unity movements that spring up, and they're good, sometimes they run for a long time, sometimes they're there for a season until a networker kind of moves on. And it needs the leadership to take over and so on. I think all these are good, good expressions of it. But I think we've still got a long way to go. But the interesting thing is that when there is the unity, and when the manifestation of the unity of Christ, the non Christians notice, just to dive in, a little bit into try praying momentarily in that that's one of the things that I've loved, and I think other people have loved is that we campaign try praying once at once a year and this is April, for example. It was everywhere across Scotland. There were buses were trying to bring banners out. And on the trains and in stations and very interestingly encouragingly many, many churches had tried praying banners outside. So that visible expression of a kind of, it's a narrow piece of the Unity as it were. But there's a visible expression of unity and the gospel has, has touched so many lives. There's a lovely story of, of a person in the north of Scotland in a place called Peter head, who contacted us quite early in the year in January and she said that she knew she'd heard that we wanted to see if we could extend the try paying campaign across all of Scotland this year. And to put adverts on all the all the all the media in the cities. So she found and she said Do they got the buses that go from Aberdeen also go to Peter head and we didn't we didn't notice We found out and they do so. So she said, right. I'm going to get the Peterhead churches involved and try praying. And she did. She spoke at the churches together meeting and she she spoke individually with some church leaders and she got all the churches in this town. It's a fishing town in the north of Scotland. And she got them all involved. It all had tramping banners outside, all with piles of booklets for the church to do this, use it and lose it thing. And she found 1000 pounds to put into the budget to make sure that was plenty of buses from Aberdeen. Then in fact, in February, she emailed us and she said to the buses that go from Aberdeen to Peterhead also go to Fraser bruh. And we didn't know. So we found out and they do so she said, right. I'm going to get the phrase of researchers involved, and sure enough, she did. So it's just again, it's just a very narrow thing on the whole unity issue, but visible expression of unity is important but this lady is struggling She said just a week ago. She said, I'll tell you what tri praying has done for the churches and Peterhead is brought them together.
We're extremely grateful to be speaking this morning with David Hill, founder of the UK based charity, there is hope and also the international campaign. Try praying. David, thank you so much for sharing your insights and time with us this morning.
Thank you. Great to be
with you. Thank you.