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Tales from the Food Bank: the power of prayer

A training session, and a volunteer from the new branch of the food bank in Broomhill brings up the issue of prayer.

The Trussell Trust which runs the Glasgow North West Foodbank is essentially a Christian organisation, after all, and it operates from Church of Scotland premises.

It never plugs the Christian message to food-bank users but the Broomhillian poses a reasonable question: "Should we offer to pray for them?"

I shuffle my feet under the table and look down in embarrassment. I shouldn't offer to pray because I haven't been able to believe since I was about 13 and decided the world was a rotten place no caring God would be in charge of. And He won't be listening to a sin-stained unbeliever like me anyway.

Yet I recognise that churches, especially at the grass-roots level, where they are helping people cope, supporting individuals through tough times and not asking for thanks, can be a powerful force for good in society, and the food bank is a prime example.

I replaced religion at 14 with a vague, generous, socialist idealism, but I don't see political parties organising anything to get troops on the ground, fire-fighting the personal crises so many have been left in by our pathetic, mealy-mouthed governments.

At the training session volunteers are not sure about wading in with offers of prayer.

"Sometimes they ask us to say a prayer for them," offers one. I can imagine even atheist clients thinking there's no harm in trying God: all else has failed, after all.

And although I can't say a prayer as such I recognise that it really can help. For me it's a case of saying: "We're thinking of you, rooting for you," which is good for anyone in times of trouble.

That is something I can do, for sure.

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