A Mixed Up Minister?
What insights does the book of Jonah have for ministers today?
Led by The Revd Tom Stuckey, a former President of the Methodist Church.
A Prayer Strategy for 2012
Imagine what it would be like to be in a situation;
- Where the tangible presence of God was being frequently experienced,
- Where peace and harmony reigned on our streets,
- Where crime of all kinds was declining,
- Where social problems were diminishing,
- Where the media was taking notice of what God was doing both in the church and in society.
Imagine, and ask God can this be – here, in Britain? And if so, what will it take to turn things around and begin the process?
I believe that God has already spoken about this. He has begun to say to different people that we have a window to turn things around in the nation through prayer;
- To mobilise prayer and to lift up the name of the Lord,
- To establish “towers of praise”,
- To connect the body of Christ together in our towns and villages to praise and worship Him and to beseech Him for a fundamental change in our society and nation,
- To prepare this nation spiritually,
- To begin to make a difference.
So that, when hundreds of thousands of athletes, media, supporters and organisers come to Britain for the Olympics in 2012, we (that is we as God’s people) will be ready to welcome them in the presence of God. Just think, the nations will be coming to us. Many of those nations have been victims of injustice, unfair trade and political mishandling. Many of those nations have something against us. But out of an attitude of humility and love, here will be a chance for us to come in the opposite spirit of all that. This is a golden opportunity for us to bless them, whatever their colour, belief, language and social status. To prepare the way for the church to welcome them with love, grace, charm, politeness, and with a positive message born out of God’s love in our hearts.
God said to me three times, “London is vulnerable”. I believe He was saying this in relation to the lack of strategic prayer there.
He was also saying that we needed to link prayer together around the coast of Britain to provide a protective spiritual barrier, particularly at the gateway towns.
It is time to get really serious about:
- The protection of our nation spiritually.
- The preparing of the way both for us who live in Britain, and for the world who will visit Britain, to come into an awareness of God’s presence.
The transformation of our nation.
If we believe that this is possible, then we have to motivate, mobilise, organise, connect, focus and increase the level of praying as much as possible through a co-ordinated strategy. Although this word has relevance for the Olympics, it is much more about manifesting the presence of God into our nation and for His presence to be experienced in every area of life.
What will that strategy begin to look like?
- London – I believe we need to mobilize prayer and engage in prayer on a higher level than ever before in a coordinated fashion in and around the Greater London area. London is still vulnerable. Is the M25 Prayer Net complete? What prayer is taking place? How strategic is it? The London Borough connections need to be firmly established and need to be developed. Christians need to cooperate and join in prayer across the denominational, racial, linguistic and cultural barriers.
- We need to see strategic prayer and praise in all the coastal gateways of Great Britain.
- We need to look for a welcome event in 2010 or 2011 for Christians from Commonwealth nations, either ahead of or in connection with the Olympics in 2012.
- We need to link in with the Global Day of Prayer and other prayer calls between now and 2012 so that we look towards a gathering momentum of prayer throughout Great Britain.
Quality of Praise & Prayer – the Biblical exampleL~
The picture I had was of towers (not physical ones) of praise and prayer rising up from the coastal towns. God is looking to see these. The towers were of different sizes, but they were all seeking to reach high into the heavens.
This is not just about networking prayer in the various places, but more about looking for a level of praying which is of both watchman and gate-keepers.
Gate-keepers in this context are not just pastors of cities, but are the folk with spiritual responsibility to worship the Lord and to guard the church. We normally regard pastors in cities and towns as ‘gate-keepers’. Biblically they sat at the gates of cities to discuss and make decisions – but they weren’t guardians of the city.
The gatekeeping defined in 1 Chronicles 9:17-33 was in the context of bringing back the ark of God (and therefore of His presence) into Jerusalem. The gatekeepers were chosen from among the Levites (the priestly tribe). They were responsible for guarding the thresholds of the Tent of meeting and then the house of the Lord. They were assigned to particular locations, on the north, south, east and west, by night and by day. Some had responsibility for practical elements of worship, others were to be musicians and had to stay in the temple! Their role was highly significant in maintaining the spiritual atmosphere for the presence of God to be experienced by all who entered.
In 1 Chronicles 14.11-15, God ‘breaks out’ against his enemies at Baal Perazim, and God says “when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move out to battle”. The Philistines were defeated, and their gods were destroyed! The strategy we adopt has to be led from heaven! Only God will enable us to break through!
In 1 Chronicles 15 and 16 the ark is brought to Jerusalem in the appointed and correct way. Gatekeepers feature in this (15.18, 23-24). The psalm of David was given to Asaph and his fellow gate-keepers (16.7-36), as probably many of the psalms in scripture were. The gatekeepers were to stand as guards over the ark of God’s presence, and were to present offerings three times a day, and give thanks to the Lord with trumpets, cymbals and other instruments (16.37-42). According to 1 Chronicles 23:5 approximately 9% were to be involved as gate-keepers and 9% in praising the Lord, so there was a twin function in both praise and worship and guardianship. In 1 Chronicles 25.1, some of the gatekeepers had a ministry of prophesying. The divisions of the gate-keepers are recorded in 1Chronicles 26 and in the second part of verse 16 we get this marvellous verse which links in with Zephaniah 3:9. “Guard was alongside of guard” – in other words they had to stand together. Unity was vital.
We need such gatekeepers to be appointed and developed as part of the strategy of prayer around the coasts and in London, in addition to the watchmen intercessors who are in place already. I believe that this will help to increase the level of praying even into the heavens!
Throughout history castles, keeps and forts have been built around the entirety of our coast. In other words successive governments have seen the value of providing protection. But has there ever been any attempt to provide spiritual protection for our nation?
The Outworking of the StrategyL~
- Initially, we need to gain commitments from leaders of churches, prayer ministries and worship groups, to concentrate on raising the level of prayer and praise in and around London and around our coasts.
This could include regular occasions when the body of Christ in each place meets together for extended periods of praise and prayer; when the presence of God is manifested in schools, hospitals, town centres and ghetto areas; when prayer is taken onto the streets and high places and along coastal paths.
- Secondly we need to see other parts (Ireland, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands) and inland towns and cities playing their part in preparing to manifest the presence of God in our land.
- Thirdly we need to connect with the vibrant praying church around the world and seek their help in praying for this country and for things to change here during the coming years.
- Fourthly, we need to ask ministries and expressions of the churches that already express the love of God into society, if they can prepare the rest of us, as well as themselves, as channels of blessing both to the world as folk come to our land, as well as to people of the land who have been messed up by the world!
We need to prepare a ‘blessing strategy’ leading up to 2012, to encourage Christians to find innovative ways to bless people who are ‘outside’ the church. For 2012 we will add to this by seeking Christian homes, retreat centres, and churches to provide accommodation, food and transport for visitors.
As time proceeds I believe God will add other components and ideas into the way we prepare to manifest the presence of God in a thousand and one different ways. The priority for the present, however, is to establish these beacons of praise and prayer before we get into action plans. It will take time to see the power of evil decline, and the power of God grow.