Ten ways to pray about Coronavirus 

In the midst of the devastating impact of Covid 19 – locally and globally –it’s hard to know what to pray for or how to pray. Above all though, we know God hears the longings of our hearts even when we don’t seem to have the right words.

However, you might find help with these 10 ways to pray in this challenging time. Each is accompanied with some Scripture to reflect on.

1. Intercede for God’s mercy

‘In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger remember your mercy’.  Habakkuk 3.2

Almighty God, You alone are our hope, our strength and our shield. Please move in power to rescue us from the many fearful effects of this global disaster.

2. Give thanks for those reaching out with justice, care and hope

‘I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’’ Isaiah 41.13

Sovereign Lord, I bring to you those who are seriously ill. Please comfort them and restore them to health and strength. And protect the doctors, nurses and carers looking after them.

3. Ask God to grant success to medical researchers

Jesus said: ‘Pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.’ Matthew 21.21,22

God of mercy, may an effective vaccine against Covid-19 be quickly developed. Please enable pharmaceutical and other companies to provide the vital medicine and equipment that is needed.

4. Pray for our churches

‘Equip God’s people to do his work and build up the Church . . . until we all come to such a unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.’ Ephesians 4.12,13

Father, please strengthen those who lead our churches as they organise care for their members and their communities – and make it possible for worship and prayer during lockdown.

5. Pray for those in badly affected places

‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’ Psalm 23.4

Father, I bring to you those in areas badly hit by the virus. Please comfort and strengthen them as they battle through. And bring them soon to the point where danger begins to recede.

6. Pray for the health workers

‘The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6.8

Gracious God, grant insight to those responsible in the NHS for making decisions to maximise staff resources, create bed spaces and deploy life-saving equipment. And uphold all those working at great sacrifice on our behalf.

7. Ask God to watch over those in need of rescue and support

‘His faithful promises are your armour and protection… Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.’ Psalm 91.4-6

Lord, please grant peace to all who feel lonely and fearful. Provide for people who live alone, those with no job or sufficient income and families needing support. Amen.

8. Call on God to pour out his Spirit on his people

‘Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.’ Hebrews 2.18

Lord Jesus, may your Spirit fill your Church and make us worthy ambassadors of the Kingdom; praying faithfully, speaking truth graciously and sharing your love in this time of need. Amen.

9. Pray about the economic effects

‘We hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.’ Hebrews 6.18,19

Lord, we cry to you about the global impact on financial markets, national economies and businesses resulting in closures, job losses and other hardships affecting many people. May wisdom and justice rule.

10. Pray for leaders around the world

’Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.’ Lamentations 3.22

Lord, grant wisdom to the Government and their advisors to act with integrity and courage as they make vital decisions and announce difficult measures that will impact our lives.

This has been adapted from CARE’s leaflet in the ‘Ten Ways to Pray’ series of prayer resources. CARE also produces a quarterly Prayer Diary covering a range of topics with prayers, relevant information and Bible verses. These free resources can be ordered from CARE resources through an email to mail@care.org.uk

If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

Keep it or dump it? Here’s 10 valuable tips for decluttering your inner life.

The move from our three-storey home of 35 years to somewhere much smaller was always going to be a challenge. Over the many years much had been accumulated – some because we could not bear to part with it. Some just because that’s what happens.

And when that time came – and with Christmas just around the corner – I found myself singing to myself what was close to reality:

‘On the twelfth day of moving, these objects I did see…

12 torches shining; 

11 staplers stapling;

10 scissors snipping;

9 kitchen gadgets;

8 pairs of wellies;

7 extra duvets;

6 coffee tables;

5 IKEA Allen keys!

4 broken bikes;

3 doormats;

2 rusty woks;

and a fish taaaaank going for free!’

To be honest, some of the decisions were easy. After all, who needs five pairs of scissors? Just keeping the best ones made sense. But it was not all that simple.

Which got me thinking about how we can apply the principles of physically decluttering to our inner life – and the habits, thoughts, attitudes we’ve gathered over the years.

This is what I came up with – some simple questions to ask ourselves and some actions to take.

1.Is it time for an internal review?

How long is it since you sat quietly and took stock of what’s ‘cluttering’ your thoughts and emotions? Too long? Then make the commitment to do so, asking God to help you start and expecting him to be with you in the process.

2.Does such a thought fill you with dread?

Don’t be hard on yourself or charge off in the direction of feeling guilty – any more than you should about what may be cluttering your garage or attic. God wants to bless you as you ‘clean house’ and has plans for your future, for hope.

3.Are you aware of what’s in your life – emotionally and spiritually?

It’s easy to get in a rut and feel your inner life is ‘same old, same old’. But the best years may be ahead and some uncluttering could give you the space for it to unfold.

 4.What do you need to prioritise?

Looking after your health and wellbeing – physically and emotionally –is vital and not selfish. So think about rooting out activities and external demands that put this at risk.

5.Is there stuff you should dump?

Has the time come to lay down some of the past you are carrying? Hurts, resentments, disappointments, failures? Perhaps the spiritual equivalent of your local dump is The Cross – which is where you need to take them and leave them.

6.What’s good that you need to celebrate?

A physical declutter can often reveal some treasures that have been overlooked and deserve dusting down and giving pride of place. That can be true of our inner lives too. Look out for those gems that deserve being celebrated and made more of.

7.Are you taking time to enquire and listen to what God wants to say to you?

With a listening ear, ask God what he’d love you to leave go of and what he’d like you to make room for. Perhaps do so in the company of those closest to you. You may be surprised at the answers.

8.How are your spiritual disciplines?

Discipleship is lifelong learning and progress only comes through regularly practising spiritual habits like taking time with the Bible, praying and giving thanks, loving others.

9.Are there old hopes and dreams that God is stirring in you again – or could do?

The passing years might have dulled desires and aspirations you once had. So consider spending time remembering, perhaps reading old journals or sharing with long term friends. Maybe the time has now come to go for it.

 10.Is Jesus at the centre of your life or are other loves competing?

The first Commandment speaks about God’s loving jealousy for us to stay in a mutually committed relationship with him. One that places our trust in him alone to deliver and see us through. Is that where you are?

That’s my list. To be honest, it’s a lot more challenging than figuring out which pair of scissors to keep. But even more important.

If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

How will you be remembered? What 5 things do you hope will be said at your funeral?

Hopefully, it will not be soon when you or I have people saying things about us at our funeral. But one day it will happen. And I wonder what they’ll say about us.

And, though such an occasion is some way ahead, it’s important to realise that what’s happening right now is going to shape such conversations.

This came home to me recently when marking the passing of a much loved 82-year-old friend. He was renowned for all he had quietly achieved for God’s kingdom and was also regarded as a wonderful ‘uncle’ to scores of young people.

Having never married, and with few family members of his own, this man was unfailingly interested in what the children of his many friends were doing. And was automatically invited to weddings, birthday celebrations, family lunches and the like.

He served on countless boards of Christian agencies and was a stalwart member of his local church. Most of all he was a faithful friend and huge fun to be with.

You and I may not have such a track record of achievement – just like the 400 people who came to his Thanksgiving Service. As I listened to the tributes to his life and character, I couldn’t help musing on what people will say when it’s my turn.

Like you, I hope to be presented in the best possible light – with any annoying characteristics quickly skated over. Perhaps with a gentle joke here and there!

However, this will also be an opportunity for others to assess the kind of person I’ve been and how faithfully I’ve tried to serve the Jesus I committed my life to.

I found myself reflecting about the attitudes and lifestyle needed while we’re still alive if we want positive things to be said when we’ve gone. And here’s my own wish list, which might get you thinking too.


This big word covers much more than how I use my money. Am I ready and willing to show hospitality, spend time and effort on behalf of others, give people the benefit of the doubt, forgive and forget.


Bible passages such as Ephesians 6 listing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 13 describing love and Colossians 3 reminding us of how Christians should live show up the areas that need might need my attention.

Qualities like patience, self-control and humility are tough to keep centre-stage. We can’t develop them without confessing our weaknesses and asking God to help us. So am I doing that?


It’s very easy to be in default ‘complain’ mode, especially as we grow older and face fresh challenges. But thankfulness to God is part and parcel of a healthy prayer-life, with this attitude overflowing in our relationships with others.

It’s about me aiming to see the good in others and appreciate the blessings of each day – however small.


O God, please help me not to become a grumpy old woman!

5.Good company

Our friend had been great to be with because he was so interested other people’s lives. My lesson here is that as we grow older, and our world starts to contract, how vital it is to do whatever it takes to enjoy the company of others. And go out of our way if possible to make them feel special.

That’s my list. What’s yours?

You will never know what’s said when that day comes. But it does seem it’s well worth living as though we just might possibly do so.

If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother.

The modest pension pot of a 56-year old pastor led to housing 1,000 homeless people. It’s a remarkable story.

At first sight you’d never imagine 76-year old Pastor Pete Cunningham to be someone bringing hope and housing to over 1,000 formerly homeless people.

Pete seems so unassuming and ‘ordinary’. Looking more like Captain Birdseye than a ground-breaking deliverer of shelter for those once on the streets.

Yet that is exactly what Pete is. And his remarkable and inspiring story involves some very interesting conversations between him and God.

Faced with the heart-breaking problem of so many living on the streets in his Southport community, some 20 years ago, Pastor Pete prayed. And the answer, he told me was, ‘God made clear he wants the church to eradicate homelessness, starting with Merseyside.’

‘But I argued with him’, Pete admitted. ‘There was no way of raising the money to meet such a great need. And anyway, these people would probably wreck any place they were given – with graffiti and smashing things up.’

But the issue just would not go away. The homeless where still there. And God kept ‘nagging’.

So, age 56 and at a time in the normal run of things he would have been planning his retirement, Pete did the unthinkable. He cashed in his £6,000 pension pot. And, with contributions from two others, purchased a couple of flats.

Which is how the life-changing Christian social enterprise Green Pastures was born.

Because of Pete’s simple act of obedient sacrifice, today there are –

  • Over 1,000 formerly homeless people with a place to live
  • Ten new beds becoming available each month
  • 150 participating churches helping make this happen
  • £25 million available to buy properties as the result of 1,040 loan stock investors
  • A fifth of residents growing in their Christian faith

At the heart of it all is someone who not only sacrificed their pension pot but is living their years of active retirement to the full. Now 76, and still going for broke, its clear how Pete has drawn on his work-life experience to now serve others.

Used what he had – plus God

Thanks to his early employment in the London Shares Market, Pete was able to identify the distinct investment model that is at the heart of Green Pastures’ success. It involves guaranteeing investors a return of up to 5 per cent per annum with their money used to finance the next purchase.

Then, as a pastor, Pete learned how to care for people, hear God’s voice, and share the good news of the gospel in word and deed.

Today Pete’s conviction remains that God doesn’t want anyone sleeping on the streets of the UK and expects Christians to sort it out.

‘To put it bluntly,’ Pastor Pete says, ‘Jesus commissioned the church, not the government. Christians may say they pay their taxes so the government should sort it. But the Bible has numerous accounts of the church of God stepping in and we should do the same today. God wants the church to end homelessness.’

And the need is not just people who have been forced into sleeping rough. There are also the ‘unseen’ homeless that need help.

Pete points to the thousands of extremely vulnerable people staying in rundown, overcrowded temporary accommodation. He told me, ‘Families are often broken up. And unless they are reconciled, where they can look after themselves, the children are likely to become young people who go off the rails. So we must we get them into suitable, stable housing as soon as possible.’ 

A shining example

Pete is a shining example of an older person serving the Lord. He’s making an incredible difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. He’s the father of six children with thirteen grandchildren and still devotes himself to the task God gave him.

At 76, Pete shows no signs of slowing down. He’s got big dreams for the future. Perhaps you could be part of them?

He challenges those with a financial cushion to consider becoming investors so that more people living on the streets can have a home. Through Green Pastures’ ethical investment programme properties are purchased for homeless people to be housed – and they also will be supported by local churches.

Or there’s a more hands-on approach, where those in their active after-work years offer their wisdom and skills in a church that signs up to help and provide volunteers.

Pastor Pete believes that if enough churches joined in, homelessness could indeed be eradicated.  Based on his example, you have to believe him.

For more about this remarkable initiative and the stories of lives changed through it, see Green Pastures.

If you have found this helpful please share it using the links below.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

The 3 key ‘growing older’ lessons from the life of St Paul you won’t want to miss

Growing old in the best way can be a challenge – amid the changing circumstances, pressures and difficulties that can often go with it. This can be true for us. And it was also true of the Apostle Paul and has much to teach us.

Paul is one of the few people in the New Testament whose life journey we can trace. Through the record of Acts and Paul’s letters we can examine the life of someone who had journeyed with Christ and was growing older in Christ.

What we discover is, in his advancing years, Paul did three things we would be wise to take on board – all of which spring out of his letter to the church in Philippi.

1. Paul met changing circumstances head-on

Change is often a challenge as we make the transition from fulltime work into and through the retirement years. It may involve a new home, lower income, fresh responsibilities, the loss of old relationships and status. And also adjusting to a life that allegedly offers more time and greater choice.

Paul, too, had to respond to huge changes as his life progressed.

We meet him first as a zealous young Pharisee, standing by impassively at the stoning of Stephen. Then he met Jesus and his world was turned upside down.

What followed involved a variety of experiences as he travelled: violent opposition, shipwreck, imprisonment, disappointments and, surely, times of loneliness. But nothing shattered Paul’s resolve to follow his Lord by preaching the gospel, teaching young believers and praying for them day and night.

What was Paul’s secret to keep going no matter how dramatically his situation changed? It was this. He didn’t ask ‘God what are you doing to me?’ Instead, he responded with the question ‘God what are you doing in this situation?’

He expressed it to the church at Philippi like this; ‘I will rejoice, for I know through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as is my eager expectation and hope…’ Philippians 1.18 – 20.

To do the same, you will need to call upon the determination to trust that God is all-powerful, and truly cares about you. And, even if the present looks bleak, he is inviting you to play a part in building his kingdom in some way.

Note that Paul acknowledges the importance of others’ prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit. We need these too as we journey through life’s changes and the challenges they can bring.

2. Paul cultivated the right attitude

How do you find yourself responding when difficulties come into your life and things do not go your way? Paul knew he must practise what he preached.

And what he preached was the need for the kind of attitude Jesus had. He wrote of the way Jesus ‘made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’ Philippians 2.8

More than that, at the time Paul was writing to the Philippian Christians, he knew death was not far from him. Perhaps you too are facing a major crisis that threatens your future.

Paul’s response was to submit himself to God, saying ‘If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but is more necessary for you that I remain in the body’. Philippians 2. 22 – 24

Now there’s an amazing attitude to be emulated – one of not seeking our own way but being humble seeking to serve others.

3. Paul resolved to do everything without complaining

Grumbling can all too easily become our default response to life. It can happen without us realising as we face situations and circumstances not of our choosing. Sadly, the accumulation of long years of experience doesn’t make complaining or arguing any less likely.

Paul’s words to the church in Philippi were not specifically aimed at its older members but they were included in his exhortation to ‘Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights…’ Philippians 2.14 -15

In our later years we are not called so much to be perfect as to be different. And Paul’s own experience is a shining example as to what that could look like for all of us.

These thoughts were inspired by insights from Rob Merchant, Director of Dispersed Learning at St Mellitus College, Chelmsford.

Are there other ways in which the life or words of St Paul are a guide to you in your days after fulltime work? Please share them here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently moved from office-based to working from home. She writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. Celia also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


Plastics: You can help save the planet with these 7 can-do attitudes

When it comes to taking action to save our planet from the ravages of plastic, age is no barrier. Indeed, it was 93-year-old David Attenborough, who exposed the appalling effect of plastics on oceans so widely with his Blue Planet II episode.

This became the UK’s fourth most watched TV programme of all time. It was sold on to 30 other countries. And sent shock waves across the world.

One outcome was that Her Majesty the Queen – also 93 – banned plastic straws and bottles throughout the royal estate.

That has to be a compelling example to those of us who’ve lived long enough to have probably witnessed and contributed to much of the most damage inflicted by plastic pollution. How can we help save the planet before we finally leave it?

Younger people, for all their laudable green aspirations, have pressures on their wallets and their time, so they may lack the capacity to embrace this vital crusade. But the after-work generation can help to lead the way and encourage others to do the same.

What can we do as those who are stewards of God’s creation? As I’ve researched this I’ve discovered it’s a really complicated subject. Sometimes we might wonder what possible difference our reusable water bottle or humble hessian shopping bag can make to the fate of the world’s oceans.

But please don’t underestimate the importance of those five environmentally friendly strategies of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, biodegrade, compost.’ And there’s more we can consider doing.

Here’s my top 7 ideas as far as plastic is concerned.

 1. Recognise not all plastic is bad!

I inherited my mother’s red plastic laundry basket in 1980 – which means it’s been in constant use for 50 years. I’m very attached to it even now it’s only held together with gaffer tape and cable ties.

Plastic has revolutionised our lives in so many life-enhancing ways and is a wondrous substance. But, when it comes to disposal and recycling, especially indestructible substances that cause such harm, we urgently need to handle this problem that’s polluting our planet.

2. Find out more

For a start we need to understand more to disentangle the confusion.

There are over 50 different types of plastics but the six most common often have numbers stamped on them to identify for recycling.

It works like this –

1 and 2 are on widely recycled items like clear drinks bottles, food packaging like fruit punnets, shampoo and cleaning product bottles.

4 and 5 are on items not yet able to be recycled everywhere but that should be within five years. Such as carrier bags, some bottles and containers, cling film, magazine wraps, lined or laminated cardboard containers.

6 is on stuff that’s not ever going to be recyclable and should be avoided. Like polystyrene cups, plastic straws and cutlery, and Styrofoam packaging

Another website to help you make sense of all this is: Which?

3. Be encouraged that inventors and entrepreneurs are finding solutions

A great example is the £15 million Ocean Cleanup floating boom – designed by 18-year-old Dutchman Boyan Slat. It’s now clearing the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the massive Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Meanwhile people are hard at work designing robots to sort materials, picking up 80 items a minute for 24 hours a day. And the dream is to create a ‘circular plastic economy’ where products are 100% recyclable – and there are rays of hope that this will happen.

4. Join other consumers to influence supermarkets about their plastic use

The amount of packaging in an average supermarket shop is ridiculous. True, some action is being taken but we can help speed it up.

Someone I know removed the plastic packaging from every purchase that was shrouded in it and politely handed the unwanted pile to a rather startled check-out staff member before stashing it in his environmentally friendly bags.

What if more of us did the same?

We can also make our money talk by choosing to shop at environmentally-aware stores and-fruit-and-veg market stalls. And carefully thinking through what we buy – selecting loose potatoes instead of bagged ones for instance.

5. Find about what happens where you live

It’s a depressing thought that, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only a fraction of plastic packaging that’s collected is properly recycled. This means, in some areas of the UK, carefully recycled household items end up in landfill along with everything else.

That’s because –

  • Plastic bags – leaving aside the green biodegradable or compostable bags – can be recycled. But so far less than 1 in 5 households have councils that accept them, according to waste charity Wrap.
  • Only 1 in 10 households are able to successfully recycle cling film and plant pots.
  • Only 1 in 100 households have a way to recycle expanded polystyrene packaging – commonly used for takeaway boxes.

To find out how your local council deals with recycling, see the website Recycle Now.  Perhaps you could start speaking out about it where you live.

6. Be part of ‘the starfish effect’

Maybe you’re familiar with the story of a child throwing stranded starfish one by one back into the sea despite there being so many he could not rescue them all. His attitude was, ‘I know, but I’m making a difference to this one.’

In the same way, we may not be able to change everything but we can at least do something.

7. Encourage your grandchildren

The great news is plastics and recycling is now high on the agenda in schools. So let’s add our own enthusiasm, interest and example to what they are learning.

As older people, our enthusiasm can speak volumes. As can our practical action.

And what better way to do so that joining with our grandchildren in local litter picking or beach-cleaning schemes.

Come to that, here’s a wonderful way for those of us for whom faith matters to show our concern for God’s great gift of creation.

What experience of helping save the planet do you have? Please share it here or with the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

In sickness and in health –keep this in mind should you become your partner’s carer.

Life in later years can have its shocks. With one being to realise your partner’s declining health is moving you into the role of carer.

That’s not the plan but it can become the reality – whether all of a sudden or gradually.

Is there wisdom that might help us now or in the future? I’ve spoken to a few who have their own story to tell and able to share what they’ve learned. And hope their wisdom might help others – even you if that moment comes.

Understanding the issues

For example, I can tell you about Janet and Ray – not their real names of course – who had always worked harmoniously together. They’d been like ‘two wheels’ – raising their kids, running the family business and taking on various roles at church. Everyone agreed they complemented each other perfectly.

‘At first I didn’t notice,’ Janet told me, ‘but bit by bit Ray was losing ground and no longer the strong man he’d always been. Little things I had to do because he no longer could, his mind slowing down, me feeling anxiety I never had before.’

A year later came the blow of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. With Ray becoming increasingly dependent on Janet. How did she adjust and what helped?

She told me, ‘My emotions were hard to cope with. Part of me was – unreasonably – angry with him. I felt bereaved. I sometimes resented it all and then felt guilty.

‘My doctor was supportive, and I managed not to fall into depression as some do. Sometimes being allowed to escape for a while made a difference, to do something just for me. And the understanding of others was a huge help. Sometimes we could laugh about it all, which was a relief actually.’

Janet found having a daily routine essential but hard to achieve. On difficult days they just got through the jobs one by one and ate their meals until thankfully it came to bedtime and hopping the next day would be easier. Which, sometimes, it was.

She also found they needed things to look forward to. To break the monotony and trial of living with pain and disability – which, in their different ways, they both were. As Janet explained, ‘Ray loved Sundays; to go to church and enjoy the singing, hear the message, see his friends. And my weekly Zumba session saved my sanity sometimes.’

Practical action

From someone else I gathered this list of ‘Random notes to a friend whose spouse is terminally ill’. They are in not in order of importance and include both practical and personal thoughts. Only some will apply in any given situation and you may want to add your own.

  • Learn how the boiler works and find out about the many other tasks they have always done
  • Get copies off all their online passwords.
  • If you have separate bank accounts transfer any cash at the bank from the one who is soon to ‘be promoted to heaven’. Otherwise that money will be frozen until after probate.
  • Check they are content with their Will – any legacies to add? Talk about any personal items they would like to go to family members, friends, godchildren. Specified items mean so much to the recipient – ‘She wanted you specially to have this.’
  • Children and grandchildren. Are there things to be said, or letters to write while health permits? Say or write deep things, thanks, and reminiscences while you can.
  • Go through significant papers together, check you understand what is needed for the future.
  • Think ahead and avoid ‘if onlys’
  • Share your fears, sorrow and grief if given the time
  • In the later stages get the extra help you need – try to take breaks from being the carer.
  • Enjoy what you can together while you can. Spend time
  • ‘Just being there’ is a great comfort to the one who is coming to the end of their life. Give ‘permission’ to your loved one to let go, if need be.

Use the available help

The temptation is to soldier on – sometimes out of pride and sometimes because it seems easier than involving others. But that can be a recipe for disaster. It is vital that you look after your own health and wellbeing while being a carer for someone else.

That means, when offers of help come, take them – and don’t feel guilty.

Also, see what support is available through your church and your local care service. And grab it with both hands.

What experience of being your partner’s carer do you have that could help others? Please tell us here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group. Thank you.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

More time to pray? It’s not that easy. But here’s some encouragement and practical help.

Person praying

In these uncertain times, prayer seems more important than ever. And I guess it’s not unreasonable to expect that those of us who are no longer working full time with perhaps the added daily responsibilities for children to use our time and head and heart space to pray more.

To be honest, most of us feel we’d like to do better with our praying. After all, our life experiences have built much wisdom and faith into our hearts and minds that we can invest. And we know James in his letter says, ‘The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.’ James 5.16.

But let’s be realistic. It’s not that easy. What’s needed is some encouragement and some practical help. So let me offer you some of both.

First, the encouragement. To put it simply, prayer works.

At moments of impending peril during the Second World War, days of prayer were held – for the evacuation of Dunkirk for instance. The King and Parliament called the nation to pray and a series of miracles meant that 338,000 Allied soldiers trapped in Normandy – my father among them – were rescued in heroic circumstances.

The God to whom we bring this needy world does things like this when we pray. The circumstances now in 2019 may be different but we have the same prayer-answering God.

Now for the practical help.

  1. Decide when and how. God is always with us, so prayer is a moveable feast. But as with enjoying food and drink, there are different times and ways to do it. Does this new season in your life offer the opportunity to do things differently? Is there an alternative time or place to meet God by yourself? Are there new people who you could join to pray with? Or is what’s needed a fresh commitment to stick with what you’ve always done?
  2. Remember ‘ACTS’ I’m sure you know the well-worn acronym of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication which serves as a helpful guide to the order of our prayers. Perhaps it’s time to dust it off and give it another go. If so, do work at getting a balance. Too much introspective repentance at the expense of remembering others’ needs isn’t good. How will you include worship in these prayer times?
  3. Find your focus. The reality is that we can’t pray for everything. So try to sense where your own focus should be. Family? Friends? Church life? Community? Nation? International? You’ll not want to go overboard by praying exclusively for just one area. But don’t take the whole world on your shoulders either. There are apps to help you organise your prayers in this way. Check out Prayer Mate or the new Inner Room from 24/7 Prayer.
  4. Get clued up. There are many helpful resources to give you up to date information for your prayers. My favourite – because I write it! – is CARE’s quarterly Prayer Diary with its wide range of topics. To receive it by post or online follow this link – CARE Prayer.
    With Brexit on the horizon as I write, you’ll find helpful information and opportunities to pray from the following –
    National Call 2 Prayer. This is encouraging informed prayer, especially on March 28th, Brexit Eve.
    Christians in Parliament is a cross-party organisation with a vision for bringing faith into the heart of politics.
    The Evangelical Alliance which has brought together some helpful prayer resources.
    24-7 Prayer is at the forefront of intercession around the world and this link is to their section on the UK.
    World Prayer Centre is a national hub for prayer throughout the UK.
  5. Don’t be downhearted. What a relief that prayer isn’t just down to fallible human effort. The Holy Spirit is the composer and conductor of this extraordinary global orchestra we’re in.

The needs are great. Our God is greater. What an opportunity we have to bring a broken and needy world to the only One who can truly make a difference.

What approach to prayer have you found helpful and what prayer resource would you recommend. Please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Want to get closer to your grandchildren? Try these 5 simple ways.

Grandchildren come in all shapes and sizes. And you want to build the closest possible relationship with them. But how?

Here are 6 simple ways to bridge the gap without sounding like you know it all or come from planet Zog. Try them. You have nothing to lose.

  1. Ask the right questions. We all enjoy talking about ourselves and kids are no exception. But you need to ask questions that go beyond the bland ‘So how’s school?’ to get below the surface.The ‘right questions’ lead to understanding what makes them different and special. And mean they know you’re genuinely interested and care.Do it well and in answer to your questions you’ll discover information about their best friend, their favourite room, their first memory, what frightens them, which children’s tv character they’d like to be, their favourite meal, what makes them happy – and sad, what makes them laugh, what they think they are best at, if they had a shop what they would sell, what’s the best food ever, what superpower they would like, their best joke, and more.Of course, this all involves making time to listen – which is one of the greatest gifts anyone can offer to a person of any age. And such conversations should never be forced or rushed. The child chooses whether to tell you stuff and it may take patience to wait for that privilege.
  2. Listen in depth. Don’t fall into the trap of asking questions and then not truly listening to the answers. That’s the listening equivalent of turning several pages over at once when reading to them!Grandchildren will know you are listening if you repeat back what you have heard them say and then dig a little deeper. Sometimes the very best next question is ‘why’ because it can take the conversation to a deeper level. And be prepared to listen to a lot of chatter that may bore you but enthrals them!
  3. Tell them your story. Getting closer is a two way process. So offer them the opportunity to ask their questions about you. And take the opportunity to delight them by telling then your own story.They’d love to know your own answers to the questions that you asked them; especially tales from your childhood and teenage years. Better still, dig out some very old photographs to bring it all to life.
  4. The role of grandparents is not the same as for parents. That gives us extra leeway to be understanding of their faults and mistakes – though not in a way that undermines the discipline and standards of their parents.What you may be able to contribute from time to time is a story of something from your past that relates to the child’s experience. These times might offer opportunities to talk about the virtues of courage, honesty, forgiveness, creative problem-solving, kindness and hard work.
  5. Believe in them. Praise and encouragement are priceless gifts to any child. It’s good to be positive about what they achieve – but even more so if that reinforces qualities you admire about them.Keep your eyes open for the positive things they do, asking God to make you aware. And then, over time, you can sow seeds and nurture the precious potential that lies within them. Be sure to express this genuine appreciation wherever you can. It will help to build the confidence that is supremely important for children, especially those who lack a strong sense of self-worth or have particular difficulties or disabilities.
  6. Hang on in there. Life has its ups and downs and grandchildren will have their own experiences of that – as will you most probably will in your relationship with them. There may be times when it’s not possible to see each other so often, situations they get into that make you feel anxious, disappointed, let down.But whether all is going swimmingly well or there are tensions don’t give up on your responsibility to be an example of faithful unconditional love – whatever that looks like for each child at every stage of their lives.

And, of course, above all else, pray for them.

For more practical insight on being a grandparent, see the AfterWorkNet webpages at Grand parenting.

What questions have you asked your grandchildren that have opened your eyes and deepened your relationships? Please share them here.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Have you joined our Facebook group yet? It’s a great way to share the journey with other after-workers.

Me, my mobile and God. Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

They say our smartphones are more powerful than the massive NASA computers that sent Apollo missions to the moon in the 1970’s.  In the UK, 85 per cent of us use our mobiles daily and some find it hard to resist regularly checking them – apparently every twelve minutes on average  – to text a message, catch up on FaceBook, play music or ask Siri or Alexa for help. Nothing wrong with any of it but let’s keep technology in its place. Particularly as we consider the habits of our children and grandchildren.

Here’s a very practical place to start that thinking! And food for thought for families we know

Ten (suggested) Commandments for using a mobile

  1. Never at a shared meal table. Including breakfast!
  2. Never sneak – under the table; in the loo…
  3. Make sure your privacy settings, especially on Facebook, protect you. It’s incredible how much information about you is out there. It could easily be exploited.
  4. Be secure and take passwords seriously. That means thinking about the process. Try Googling ‘how to set strong passwords’ and note them safely.
  5. Adults need to monitor teenagers’ mobile and other screen use. For those in our care, have a policy on where, when and for what they use their devices. Stick to it. (Katherine Hill’s book ‘Left to their own devices’ published by Care for the Family is excellent on this)
  6. Small children’s use of devices and online experience is in our hands. Parents and others looking after them need to how to limit their use appropriately.
  7. Wherever you find yourself – home, work, church – if you can, speak to someone face-to-face rather than text or call.
  8. Don’t allow your devices to interfere with your concentration. When you have work to do, fun to enjoy, people to spend time with, turn them off and put them out of sight.
  9. Never use when driving. Even on hands-free it’s very easy to be distracted. Silence it – like you do in church – and leave it screen down, in the glove compartment, or on the back seat. And if you need to use your phone, pull off the road safely and stop to do it.
  10. Try taking a mobile-free Sabbath. Perhaps on Sunday, dawn till dusk. Let others know so they don’t get worried because you don’t respond, and enjoy the experience!

How many of these do you agree with? Perhaps you would add to them. We’d love to know!

Do let us know what you think, and visit  AfterWorkNet’s Facebook page to see what others are saying.

If you would like to read in deep you can find Nigel Cameron book here

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

5 Encouragements to finish well spiritually

The aspirations of those competing in the World Cup and Wimbledon are fresh in my mind. All those hours of gruelling preparation put to the test. The aspirations of those competing in the World Cup and Wimbledon are fresh in my mind. All those hours of gruelling preparation put to the test.

As we cheer on athletes and competitors like them, what of our own aspirations to finish the race of faith well?

What will it take for us to receive the trophy of God’s ‘Well done!’ at the end of life’s tournament? Here are 5 encouragements to take you on your way.

1. Don’t quite the race 

There’s a certain temptation to regard the afterwork years as more of a time to hang up your spiritual tennis shoes than lace them back up. Or, in cycling terms, to coast downhill rather than keep pushing the peddles.

Yet our after-work stage of life has plenty going for it when it comes to becoming more like Jesus. Of course you’ll hopefully have the time for a whole host of activities. But the encouragement to ‘Seek first the kingdom of heaven’ still holds as we get older.

2. Remember the winners of the past

We must never forget we’re part of God’s ageless kingdom. Those who have gone before us and finished well – the should be an encouragement for us to do the same.

Thankfully it’s not all down to us – because the Holy Spirit equips and empowers us when we ask. But it takes our own commitment to stick at the Christian life with the finishing line in sight.

‘Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.’ Hebrews 12;1 The Message

3. Finish well

It’s a sad day when we hear of someone who’s followed Jesus all their lives letting it all slip at the end. And we are all at risk here.

We may not fall to one of the big 3 – money, sex and power. But there’s also the more subtle traps of resentment, envy, laziness, indifference and self-indulgence and the like.

The Apostle Paul urges us; ‘being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 1: 6.  God won’t fail us but the trials of later life might make it a struggle for us not to fail him.

So ‘be wise and watchful and’ keep on keeping on’.

4. Please the coach

Top seeds, with a tennis racquet in hand, love just to bask in the cheers of the crowd. But they are wise to which of the spectators matter the most. It’s their coach.

In the same way, it is natural to seek the approval of family and friends for the way we do life. But no one matters more than our Great Coach and his approval. So keep the words from Hebrews 13 v 16 in mind – – ‘Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’

5. Keep your eye on the prize

It’s an epic Wimbledon moment when, with all the ball girls and boys lined up, the Duke of Kent shakes the winners’ hands and presents their trophies – along with a nice fat cheque.

There’s a day coming for all of us who have followed Jesus when something very similar happens in the courts of heaven. You might picture it as a great stadium with angels doing the Mexican Wave as you receive your victory crown and hear the ‘well done’.

The Apostle Paul had a similar picture in mind, taken from the athletic events of his day when he said, ‘athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one’.1 Corinthians 9.25.

That’s right. We press on because our reward will never fade – or be stolen or sold on eBay. The race we run has a prize that is for ever. So keep on running.

A certain Mr MacEnroe – turning 60 soon – once yelled at the umpire ‘You can’t be serious!’ But we can be serioius – and should be serious – about running the spiritual race and finishing well. Let’s do it.


Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Have you joined our Facebook group yet? It’s a great way to share the journey with other after-workers.

Decluttering your spiritual life

Do you sometimes feel in a bit of rut spiritually? Same Bible reading plan for more years than you can remember? Rather an effort to slot in a daily time alone with God? And frankly overwhelmed by all the stuff you feel guilty you’re not praying about?

Even if that’s not you, carrying out a kind of audit of your spiritual life may be helpful.

Asking a few questions to assess how well you’re in touch with what the Holy Spirit wants to do in you could be inspiring. Here’s some ideas to get started.

  • Begin with the Bible – perhaps with this nugget from Psalm 119.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (verse 105)                                                                        

Ask God to show you the way He sees you’re walking right now and to reveal His will for the way ahead. How can you make the Bible the central source of hearing from God? Research study plans and notes.

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help – He longs for us to experience the incredible richness of knowing Christ and has more to give us than we can imagine. We are unable to find the truth, wisdom, fulfilment and love we seek without God’s grace.

Ephesians 4;12, 19 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  

  • Ditch feeling guilty – even though the devil would prefer you not to! It’s important to acknowledge our need for God’s forgiveness and recognise where we fail but then to seek after the vision and strength to move forward.

Psalms again – this time 139;23,24. Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me. And lead me to life everlasting. 

  • Plan how you pray – the ACTS pattern works well as a framework. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Do you enjoy listening or singing along to Christian music, or finding other stimuli to focus on the awesomeness of God? is there stuff you know you should say sorry about? Thanking God for what He’s done – whether that’s over many years or yesterday is a great faith lifter.  Then there’s asking prayers which Jesus strongly encouraged again and again.

Matthew 7;7. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you.

  • Give to others – If we believe praying results in God’s will being done, standing with others is a wonderful thing to do. You can’t pray about everything but why not decide on half a dozen people or ministries to invest in – specific requests you can follow up. Work out the best way to make that happen. A list in your Bible? A prayer app like Prayermate? Booklets or prayer letters you receive?

1 Thessalonians 1;2 We give thanks to God for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfast hope…

The subject of prayer is unfathomable and this little blog just scratches the surface. But I hope even one thing might act as an encouraging catalyst to revitalise your walk with God.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


10 great ways to achieve great grand-parenting


There’s something wonderful about being a grandparent. But, just like parenting, there’s a shortage of wisdom on how to do it right.

So let me share with you some wisdom from Rob Parsons’ brilliant book ‘The Sixty Minute Grandparent’. It includes 10 great insights on making grand-parenting a success.

But first, some context. Being a grandparent today can be tougher than for our parents’ generation. Our kids tend to have their off-springs later in life than we did. So we are older when the grandchildren are younger.

That can be a challenge to energy levels as well as finding the knack of constraining a wriggly infant in a car seat. Or working out how to collapse a baby buggy that needs a degree in engineering to do so.

You may also be one of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’. At one and the same time, committed to caring for your own elderly parents, supporting your ‘adult’ children and seeking to be a hands-on grandparent. It’s a challenge few in past generations had to face.

The world has changed too. When I was little my 70-year-old granny sang me Scottish folk songs and we played Snap together. Today, the average grandparent has to cope with the mysteries of the virtual world as well as being looked to for practical support by a working mother.

In fact, 1 in 3 UK families depend on grandparents for a degree of childcare. This can be both a blessing and a stress-inducing burden. It’s no joke looking after a toddler who wanders from one accident prone zone to the next. And with, everything needing to be done as the parents say, not how you used to do it.

So what about some wisdom to see you through? Here comes those 10 suggestions, thanks to Rob Parsons. The thinking is his but some of the words are also mine.

  1.  Try not to interfere with or criticise your children’s parenting. No matter how you would choose to do things, affirm and encourage. Because that’s what they need most.
  2. When they are old enough, find ways to connect them to the past. Help them to know ‘where they came from’ by telling them about their family and its history. Hang on to old photos and other reminders and share them.
  3.  Develop traditions – activities, things and events they associate with you that happen on your watch. It might be a special game, an ‘in’ joke, a regular surprise, or something else.
  4. Make sure they know your love for them is without conditions. That they cannot earn your love or lose it. Tell them and show them – often..
  5. If asked to help with childcare don’t feel compelled to rush into a long term regular commitment. Just because our offspring has chosen to have offspring of their own doesn’t make you obliged, and sometime not everything is possible. So set a date to review the situation – how it’s working for all parties.
  6. Agree a joint policy on bedtimes, rules for TV, iPads and sweets etc. And confirm them in earshot of the grandchild to save the ‘but Mummy says’ ambush. Bute reserving the right to have your special rules when the grandchildren are in your house.
  7. Keep your eyes open for little ears. They hear more than you can ever believe. And, especially, never speak negatively about their parents in children’s hearing.
  8. If you live at a distance Skype and WhatsApp are wonderful things to keep in touch and abreast with news.
  9. Praise them for their qualities and not their looks. In our image conscious world they don’t need more reinforcement that the way they look matters the most.
  10. If you have more than one, look for opportunities to spend time with them as individuals. Their own special time with Grandma or Grandad can be more special to them than you imagine.

For of course, in no time at all these ‘little ones’ will grow and present a whole new set of needs and pleasures as teens and beyond into adulthood. Meanwhile, we can add your prayers and the example of your life. And enjoy.

For more insights on you and your grandkids, see our website on Grand-parenting. And if you have thoughts of your own, do please share them on our Facebook.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!


Time to face the challenge of decluttering? Then here’s some ideas.

My lovely husband once gave me ‘The Life-changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo? What was he implying I wonder!? This Japanese best-seller with its intriguing title actually became quite a page-turner for me, particularly as we downsize our home.

In these after work years there’s going to come a time when decluttering can’t be put off any longer. Several decades of acquisitions need sorting out. Possibly tens of thousands of objects!  Oh my!


You’ve got to want to do this! List your reasons. Think of the rewards.

  • Some are positively energised at the thought of reorganising, trips to the dump and lugging bags to the charity shop.

For others it’s an overwhelming prospect. If you’re in the second category do you know someone in the first who’d find a cry for help irresistible? Provided they promise not to be too militant about it, ask them round.


Marie, my Japanese tidying author advocates sorting things by narrow categories. Place all your shoes on the floor and decide each pair’s fate. Then do it with china or bed linen until you have gone through everything.

Others suggest tackling cupboard by cupboard, room by room.  Or there’s systems whereby you discard a number of items each day. Look online for inspiriation.

  • Get four boxes and label them: Chuck. Recycle. Sell. Keep.
  • The internet is groaning under the weight of good advice. Find sites that will pay you for unwanted clothes, old phones and other devices, magazines… Hold a car boot or garage sale.
  • Local authorities and community groups like Freecycle can help. Old spectacles, tools, computers, furniture – there are charities that want them. Make-up and toiletries – women’s refuge centres can use them.

A bit of research could result in the satisfaction of knowing your unwanted stuff has another life. And many of the items bound for the dump are recyclable and shouldn’t be sent to landfill.

  • Prepare to act on today’s decisions – place bags for charity shop and the dump by the door or into the car straightaway, ready to drive them away!
  • Even after a major purge there’ll still be stuff left! With more storage space you may want to put things away in better places

Physical decluttering makes you feel lighter. It’s the same with other unwanted baggage.  Perhaps we can apply similar principles to our emotional and spiritual lives…

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Downsizing – sizing it up –  three things to measure!

You’ve lived in the same place for decades – maybe raised a family in it, run a small business, created a place that’s really you. And now it’s time to move.

Lyndon and I are going through this after 32 years – we’re planning to downsize to a two-bed terraced cottage in the same locality. Believe me, it’s complicated and we’ve had lots to think about before taking the plunge and, putting our beloved home on the market with a mixture of sadness and anticipation.

Location, location, location!

Is the world your oyster? Does the south of France appeal? A Highland croft, a city mansion, a rural roses-over-the-door cottage…?  Is God calling you to a far-flung mission field or asking you to get stuck in at the church you’ve always attended? Your choices might be fairly restricted – or impossibly wide. It sounds obvious, but before sticking a pin in a map it will help to create a wish list that matches how you see life unfolding in the afterwork years.


You may have more financial flexibility than ever: with the mortgage paid off, various pension options, fewer outgoings, reduced responsibilities. Or not – money might be tight. In any event professional advice is key as you probably have way more choices than you realised. New opportunities for financial management are coming out all the time targeting the baby-boomer generation. Provision for possible future fulltime care, wise ways to leave your money after you die, freeing up money now to live fulfilling lives are all vitally important to think about as you plan to downsize.

Ideal Home?

What’s your wishlist? Believe that God will provide just the right place for you and pray in faith for specifics. Your new abode will probably fulfil different purposes now. Do you plan on being super-hospitable or fancy a smaller space just for you? It’s not just a question of how many bedrooms but the layout of downstairs living space too. Open plan or secluded spaces to cook, eat, study, relax? What about the outside – do you plan growing your own veg or fancy a small patio with the odd pot of geraniums?

This process will take time and its wise to seek the wisdom of others you trust and who know you well.

And even if you’re not planning to downsize soon – its never too early to start decluttering!!  Watch this space.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Time to spring clean your prayer life? Here are 6 great ways.

With spring on the way, the autumn of your life could be a great time to dust off your prayer life.

Like me, perhaps your times of Bible reading and prayer have become less than you wanted them to be. Working full time and years of hands-on motherhood certainly made me ridiculously busy.

It’s so easy to find prayer taking second place when you have one eye on the clock, to-do lists that seem never done, and constantly delivering other people’s agendas.

Does any of that sound like you? Have you found carving out time for you and God a challenge? That it’s been a bridge too far to find the strength you need each day – able to do little more than praying on the hoof and reading favourite bits of Scripture to keep you going in between Sundays?

Then help’s on the way – with six simple ways to spring clean your times with God. But first please ditch any guilt you may feel for the way it has become.

God understands and is so very gracious. No matter what, he meets us where we are and as we are – answering our prayers and encouraging us to keep following him.

But there’s more on offer than that in your after-work years – the autumn season of your life.

If you desire a greater sense of the Holy Spirit speaking truth, guidance and encouragement into your heart and soul you might decide to introduce more spiritual discipline into your life.

Life will still be hectic at times, but generally you should have a bit more flexibility to reorder your priorities. If renewing your prayer life is towards the top of that list the following might help.

  1. If you give a portion of your money to God’s work how about giving a portion of your time too? How much of your week is spent not only attending church and other activities and personal time with God in Bible reading, worship and prayer?
  2. This isn’t about being a ‘better’ Christian but a thirstier one!. God save us from self-righteousness!
  3. Augustine’s maxim was: ‘Pray as if it all depended on God and work at it as if it all depended on you.’ Faith is deciding to trust God which usually leads to action too.
  4. Without the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and strength, it’s impossible to deepen your prayer life. Reading plans and prayer lists, excellent though they are, won’t work on their own.
  5. What are the logistics of when, where and how to make this regular time happen? Philippa Lally, health psychology researcher at UCL says ‘If someone wants to form a habit they should specify clearly what they will do and in what situation and try to do this consistently. Over time it will start to happen more easily and require less effort.’
  6. Don’t be discouraged. There will be times when your best intentions just don’t work out. God is the One who rescues and lifts you up when you stumble. His love is stronger than anything else on earth and in heaven.

To explore more on this issue, our website has some helpful content on Nurturing Your Faith.

Celia Bowring
Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

Recently retired? 5 Smart ways to be wise with your time


Do you ever find yourself saying, ‘Now I’m retired I’m busier than ever’?’ If so, perhaps you could do with some help to make the most of your after-work life.

Here are five simple and smart suggestions on how to be wise with your time.

1. Start right – or retrace your steps if you need to

Managing transitions – like moving away from full time work – are rarely straightforward. That’s what Michael Watson says in his book ‘Your First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.’

In it, Michael stresses how important it is to nail down your expectations, goals and dreams as soon as you can. And he recommends some kind of timetable as to when you hope to see them happen. Its all too easy for your time to just be taken over with other people’s expectations.

2. Decide what’s most important

Be specific on your priorities. For example –

  • Nurturing your relationships
  • Keeping healthy and fit
  • Financial security
  • Fun
  • Helping others
  • Starting something new or rekindling an old hobby

If you are stuck for inspiration, there’s lots of suggestions for you on our New challenges webpage.

3. Create habits that’ll result in these things actually happening

Moving from one way of life to another calls for working out some new routines to replace the old. Perhaps things like –

  • Adding regular dates to your diary to spend with your partner and planning time with friends
  • Starting a realistic regular exercise plan
  • Keeping track of money and working out your budget
  • Having an adventure once a week
  • Committing yourself to activities at your church or some local volunteering opportunity
  • Joining a choir, signing up to a course, learning a language…

If that might mean doing something fulfilling as a volunteer check out the AfterWorkNet webpage on Serving.

4. Manage your time rather than letting your time manage you

If time management is second nature to you then skip this one. But if you are like most of us it is worth heeding the wisdom of the ‘retirement analysist; Bob Lowry.

Bob tells how he first started his retirement by making extensive ‘to do’ lists. He’d programme 15-30-minute time blocks for various tasks and activities, including his afternoon nap. But the pressure to deliver on his made-up schedule was too much and was he found he was doing most of it just to tick it off the list!

When he tried the opposite – just going with the flow and planning nothing – there was no structure and he didn’t know what to do.

Finally, Bob found a happy medium, using schedules and lists when that helped but feeling free to change his plans – because now his time was his own.

5. Keep things under review

Consider putting a time limit both on those things other people ask you to commit to and the ones you decide yourself to give a go.

Situations change. You may find you don’t like what you’ve got into. You may prefer to do something else with your time. There could be new responsibilities, health challenges and opportunities that face you.

That’s why agreeing on a specific date to review the situation when making a commitment is a wise move.

And think about a personal six-month review of how your time is being spent – maybe with the input from someone close to you.


Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife