From Monday 18th to Friday 22nd September, we had our latest Week of Prayer as a church; this is something we do at a couple of different points throughout the year as a regular rhythm to keep prayer front and centre of everything that we’re doing together. This isn’t to say that we then take a break from praying for the remaining 50 weeks! Instead, having a couple of moments of specific focus throughout the year can be incredibly helpful in ensuring that we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus throughout everyday life, and ensures that we can set aside time to seek God and listen to what He has to say about our community, city, nation and the nations.
We rounded the week off by gathering together on the Friday evening, and here are a few of the things we prayed for, and some of what God led us in:
Children and Young People
It was fantastic to kick the evening off with a time of worship with our Youth, during which they took a moment to call out the names of each of their schools/colleges so that we could have a burst of prayer specifically for them. We recognised that there’s a lot of pressure around education at the moment, for both students and those working in schools, but also (encouraged by a story of a historical revival in the town of Coleraine, Northern Ireland) that there are great opportunities to reveal something of the peace, identity and freedom that Jesus offers.
Later, a word was brought linking the promise to Joshua that God would give him wherever he put his feet as an inheritance (Joshua 1:3) to the call from the Apostle Paul for believers to be those whose feet are fitted with the good news of the gospel (Ephesians 6:15). We prayed that specifically for our young people — that they would know that as they step into their individual schools and classes, God goes with them, equipping them with what they need to live and speak for Him.
As we sung the song ‘Spirit Break Out’, which includes as part of the chorus the words “break our walls down”, God prompted us to consider what walls he wanted to break down in our own lives. Two specific walls were highlighted, both relating to how we share the good news of Jesus with those around us: the wall of comfort, preferring the safety and security of a cosy coffee with friends to the risky adventure of stepping out in faith to invite others in, and the wall of fear, of others opinions and of rejection (something particularly poignant in the light of Adrian’s recent talk on fear, which you can listen to below).
Scripture has a number of stories of walls coming up and going down, but this is something which is often done as a community. So at Jericho, where the people of God brought the city walls down, it was done by the power of God working through a whole community in action, and later when Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, he gathered the people of God together in order to do the work. In the same way, as we gather, God wants to bring breakthrough (tearing down the walls of comfort and fear that trap us) and to build us up as we seek Him together.
What are your walls? Jesus promises that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36) — there is freedom and salvation in no other name.
God also spoke prophetically through the name of our location - as we worshipped whilst looking out over Cannon Hill Park, he reminded us that just as cannons are weapons of war, so too is our worship a spiritual weapon of war, it’s how the walls in our lives come down just as the walls did at Jericho. Yet also, cannons are used to salute, honouring and pointing to one who is worthy of recognition, and that’s what we do as we worship; we realign our priorities and focus again on the one who is worthy of all honour, recognition and praise.
Taste and See
A prophetic picture came of a street, with locks above the doors of our neighbours, where each lock had a word written on it: one of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, acceptance and wholeness. The invitation was for us to be those who come and seek God to unlock those things over our neighbours, in order that they might taste and see that He is good. In our individual situations, we have an opportunity to carry with us the Keeper of the Keys, the Holy Spirit, who by His power unlocks those things in our communities, homes, schools, workplaces, recoveries and everywhere else we go.
We’re to know that the Spirit living within us means that we are those who walk in the authority of our Father. Just like a King sending a letter and putting the stamp of his signet ring as a seal upon it to show that it carries his authority, so too we are those who carry the seal of the King in the form of His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14). Are we walking in that authority in how we live, and how we invite God to move in whatever situations we’re facing? Ultimately, this comes from seeing and savouring Jesus all the more, in order that it might overflow from within us and cause others to want to taste and see for themselves.