from Andy Wooding Jones at the World Prayer Centre and the More Than Gold Prayer Team
The Olympics and Paralymics have come and gone now – but the legacy will endure in many ways as the events of this summer fade into history. Just like the Festival of Britian in 1951, it’s likely we’ll look back on this time as a major milestone in the nation’s history.
Of course, for Christians, we want to know if that legacy will in any way glorifiy Jesus. And if we take the position of faith that God is bigger than all those dramatic pronouncements of the various ceremonies that contradict the gospel, then we can see that prayers were very much answered and brought blessing to the nation, and to the nations as they gathered on out shores.
This goes hand-in-hand with the marvellous way in which churches up and down the land put on More Than Gold (MTG) inspired Olympic-themed events to bring blessing to their ocal communities (see previous article).
Please find below a report issued by the MTG Prayer Team which outlines areas to rejoice in and build upon in the name of Jesus.
MORE THAN GOLD
Answered Prayers – Summer 2012
In preparation for London 2012 the Prayer Team of More than Gold produced a number of resources to help Churches and ministries to engage in prayer. These included:
• Shine in the New Year – service and prayer meeting outlines. December 2011
• A Time to Shine Prayer Guide – 10 Sections resourcing the church to pray. January 2012
• Shine as the Flame Travels (all documents listed on the 70 day prayer relay evaluation)
• Daily Prayer 14 May-29 September – issued monthly on web as downloadable PDF and daily on Facebook and Twitter
• Call to Prayer Resources for 27 July to pray as the bells were rung on website July 2012
This document shows the remarkable ways in which many of the specific prayer requests shared through the Daily Prayer have been answered.
Jane Holloway who co-ordinated the More than Gold Prayer Team writes: ‘We were humbled by God’s mercy as we watched our nations impacted by God’s kingdom values and thrilled that this was actually being picked up by commentators, journalists and the media. God has not given up on the UK. Now we need to continue to work and pray for more of His Kingdom to be visible here in our lands’.
We have learnt that it is important to first listen to what is on the Father’s heart and pray accordingly and not to be afraid to ask big things of a God for whom nothing is impossible!
As you read this document I trust that you will celebrate with us the amazing ways that God answers prayer.
GOOD GAMES (14/5, 31/7)
- We prayed: At the start of this daily prayer journey, we pray for the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG), that they might know God’s wisdom, particularly in the last minute decision making in these coming weeks so that we can have a good Games.
- The Times – Monday 10th September “Bliss was it in that summer to be alive, but to be in London was very heaven. It wasn’t the finest summer of sport we have ever known: it was much better than that. It was the finest celebration of humanity in a quarter-of-a-million years of our existence. It was the best party in the history of the human race… Our lives this summer were bathed in glory and marinated in wonder. The summer of summers is over and, by God, it’s been a joy.”
- Daily Telegraph – Monday 13th August “There is an incandescent glow over London today. At worst, the Games were a distraction from troubled times. At best, they might act as Britain’s timely reminder to itself about what is possible when it puts its mind to it and its heart in it.”
Opening Ceremony (27/6, 24/7,27/7)
- We prayed: The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Games is just one month away. As final touches are put to the programme and the venue, pray that the Christian heritage of this nation will shine out strongly in all that is featured in that spectacular event.
- Bernadette Meaden 31 July www.ekklesia.co.uk – ‘The spiritual values transmitted throughout were uplifting, and remarkable in a secular age. The ceremony was subtly infused with Christian culture, but in a way that was inclusive and respectful of difference’…’In one section of the ceremony after another, selfish individuality was rejected in favour of the communal and collective. As no one person lit the Olympic cauldron, celebrity culture was rejected in favour of the nobility of the average person’.
- A Christian reflection on the Opening Ceremony by Jeff Fountain – Three cheers for the Brits! Four years ago, as the Chinese handed over the Olympic flag to the British, I wondered how those islanders could ever match the spell-binding display of artistic precision and mass choreography which opened the Beijing Games. On Friday evening we witnessed Britain’s answer: humour, history, helicopters, hospital beds and–of all things–hymns! Christian hymns! Firstly, William Blake’s patriotic Jerusalem provided the soundtrack for a spectacular portrayal of the invasion of England’s green and pleasant land by dark, Satanic mills. Then, Welsh children sang their nation’s unofficial anthem, Guide me O Thou great Jehovah, still often sung at Rugby matches in Wales. Later, a reverent rendition of Abide With Me accompanied a dance dramatising the struggle between life and death, in remembrance of the victims of the 7/7 bombing in London. The orchestra, under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle (I thought that was British humour but that’s his real name) then struck up the soundtrack of ‘Chariots of Fire’–a title taken incidentally from Blake’s hymn. Of course, what we will remember about that item, say in 2016, was Mr Bean’s virtuoso piano (and running) performance! But it also reminded the global audience of four billion(!) of the classic story of Scotsman Eric Liddell, the Christian Olympian who refused to run in his 100-metre event on a Sunday in the 1924 Paris Olympics, but who instead ran in the 400-metre event, not his specialty, and won gold in world-record time. Here was another link to China, as Liddell returned as a missionary to the land where he was born. After Japan invaded, he chose to stay with his beloved Chinese. He died there in a concentration camp, teaching fellow interns to forgive and love their enemies. To this day, his story continues to spread among millions of Chinese. Back in 2008, however, few would have thought that Britain’s answer to China’s breathtaking extravanganza would include hymns!
Police (17/5) and Security (22/5, 1/6, 2/7)
- We prayed: Pray for all the security arrangements being made for the Games and the activities of the churches. For the protection of people, buildings and open-air venues, and for the security personnel involved.
- Owen Gibson and Gwyn Topham guardian.co.uk, 12 August 2012 ‘Security at the Olympics has faded as an issue over the past fortnight, which will have delighted the police, MI5 and armed forces — and come as a huge relief to G4S. But the company’s problems are far from over. The security firm generated all the wrong kind of headlines on the eve of the event, embarrassing ministers and forcing emergency statements in the House of Commons. In all other respects, the security of the Games has been a success.’
- Daily Telegraph 18 September 2012 ‘Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, told MPs yesterday: “Our initial assessment is that during that period crime was reduced by something like the order of 6 per cent despite the fact that we had a lot more people travelling into London.’
Transport (18/5, 27/5, 17/6, 19/7,24/7, 4/8, 3/9, 5/9)
- We prayed: Pray for preparations to receive tens of thousands of visitors through key hubs such as airports, railway stations,ferry terminals – that all Games travel will be smooth and safe; and those who will be commuting to work can do so easily.
- TfL – During the Games, the Tube carried over 60 million passengers, an increase of 30 per cent compared to last year; that’s more passengers than at any time in our 149 year history. The DLR carried over 6 million passengers, an increase of over 100 per cent compared to last year and London Overground carried almost 6 million passengers, an increase of 47 per cent compared to last year. Again, that’s more passengers than ever before. Traffic on our roads kept flowing and buses coped well.
- Tom Edwards BBC 13 August 2012 – ‘The success of transport during the Olympics raises the obvious question; if it can be run well over a two-week period while the capital holds the biggest show on Earth, why can’t it happen all the time?
- The system and TfL have always been very good at delivering big events, but that is mainly due to the good will of transport workers. In my experience, they were magnificent.’
Athletes / Team GB (25/5, 13/6, 5/7)
- We prayed: Pray for our home-grown athletes, that they will be kept from injury. Pray that they will work together as a team and be a great inspiration to our young people, as they compete with integrity and grace. Pray they will know how to handle media attention.
- Quote from Prime Minister Speaking outside Downing Street, Mr Cameron said hosting the Games in London had shown the world “the best face of Britain”. “This really has turned into a golden summer for Team GB, and for the whole of the United Kingdom,” he said. “I think out athletes, both individually, and as a team, can be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved. “Actually I think the whole country can be very proud of putting on such an incredible set of Games and such a great show for the whole world I think that is going to leave people with some very, very happy memories of things they’ve seen and experience and done together this great summer for our country.”
Inclusivity (30/5, 7/6, 9/7)
- We prayed: God’s measure of a person is always the heart, never the outward appearance. Pray that both the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be marked by the love which overlooks difference and disability and accepts every person as they are.
- Simon Barnes – “It’s the first time I’ve felt British,” a British-born colleague of Indian extraction told me
- The Olympics surprised us by being – what they were. Channel 4 produced a survey in which two thirds of respondents said that the Games changed their perception of people with disabilities and two thirds thought that the Paras were as good as the Olympic Games.
- The Times 6 August – ‘ The Olympic Games have often been used as an exhibition for national glory. The face that Britain is showing the world is tolerant, diverse and at ease’. ‘… From the opening ceremony, via every picture of a resplendent capital city, to the victories of modestly extraordinary young people, a new Britain is being born out of the best of the old Britain’..
Games Makers (22/6)
- We prayed: Thank God for the many people giving up their time to serve the Games and the City of London this summer. Pray for a really fun sense of community that exhibits the joy of the Lord, and represents the UK well to the rest of the world.
- Esther Addley The Guardian 9 August 2012 – As London’s grand Olympic party begins to draw to a close, those superlatives that haven’t yet been exhausted on the sporting action are being lavished on the 70,000 Games Maker volunteers who have been critical to making it happen. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of any Olympics,” the Chicago Tribune remarked earlier this week. “But, in London, they’ve also been its heart.”
- Sebastian Coe – “The overwhelming expression of gratitude I get everywhere I go is the extraordinary work of our Games Makers,” said the LOCOG chair, Sebastian Coe. “I think these Games are showing the best of us, the very best of British.” Lord Moynihan, the British Olympic Association chair, has even nominated them, en masse, for the sports personality of the year award, praising their “epic” performance, and saying: “I’d like to put on the record our tribute, our respect.”
Olympic Park (4/7 x2,28/7)
- We prayed: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be a wonderful legacy for East London. Pray for peace and security, for smooth travel and access to the park, and that, in spite of the competitive spirit, the shalom peace and order of God will be known.
- Ben James Brighton Argos 9th August – ‘But the lasting memory I and most others will take home is that of the atmosphere. The assortment of big screens across the site creates a melting pot of sporting passion. Visitors from across the globe, decked out in their national colours, cheer home their athletes. Meanwhile Team GB fans are showing the sort of patriotism we haven’t seen in a long time. It is fun, friendly and never spills over into being offensive. Those responsible for these Games should be proud of their achievements. It has more than lived up to expectations and showcased this country to be the fantastic place we know it is. At times like this, you can’t help but be proud to be British.
Paralympics (3/7, 6/7, 11/7, 21/7, 19/8, 30/8, 1/9, 11/7)
- We prayed: The Paralympic Games were born at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, as recovering service-men looked for ways to celebrate their abilities rather than being defeated by their disabilities. Pray that this same positive spirit will pervade the 2012 Paralympics.
- Guardian 10th September – ‘Just the victory parade to go, and then Britain’s summer of love will be over. London 2012, the capital’s greatest party in living memory, is done. At the risk of using up the entire annual quota of Guardian editorial schmaltz in one go, this past month it feels as if most of us have been (as Boris Johnson would have it) cropdusted with serotonin, the happiness hormone. The Olympics held the country rapt but, against all expectations, the Paralympics made them feel like a mere warm-up act.’
- BBC News 10 September website – Ramps introduced at some Tube platforms to help wheelchair users during the Olympics and Paralympics are to be retained. Transport for London (TfL) said the boarding aids at 16 stations would stay for a few months while a review was carried out. The move follows positive feedback from customers during the Games. Disability charity Transport for All welcomed the move saying the ramps had been “revolutionary”.
- We prayed: Prayer: Father, today we pray for all who will be travelling to the UK for the games, whether they will be working, taking part, or watching. May they sense your presence, and be blessed by the warmth and compassion of those who greet them.
- Visit Britain report – Visit Britain is now seeking to reinforce the effect of the Olympics among overseas visitors. Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications, said: “Enhancing the world’s perceptions of a British welcome will help us attract more visitors in the years ahead. The London 2012 Games were a great advertisement for Britain—with the volunteers and the warmth of the welcome being picked up around the world. We want to make sure that we continue to be seen as a welcoming destination for our visitors so that they continue to want to come back and recommend us to their friends and family.”
TORCH RELAY (15/5, 28/5)
- We prayed: Pray for all those involved in making the Torch Relay happen, both nationally and locally: for good co-operation between those in the Torch’s entourage and the local Police; for wisdom and energy for those involved in coordinating evening celebrations.
- From BBC Newspaper review 27th July ‘The last full day of the torch relay – through London – is widely covered.
- The simple act of carrying the flame, says the Daily Telegraph, can evoke just as much excitement as great sporting feats.
- The Times calls it Britain’s biggest and newest star – colour blind and impervious to social status.’
The Praise Bus (19/5)
- We prayed: Thank God for the Praise Bus as it follows the route of the Torch Relay –and those organising, worshiping and praying. Ask God for protection on every aspect, including mechanical. And that it will be a means of conveying joy and blessing.
- From Praise Bus Website – ‘The Praise Bus has praised God in all corners of Great Britain for 65 days and it has Travelled over 8,500 mile, visiting places in Scotland, Wales and England, 100’s of musicians have played / sung on the bus and the Praise Bus has been seen / heard by approximately over 1,000,000 people’
Recalibrating the Torch (20/5)
- We prayed: God’s Word says we, God’s people praying in unity, can bind and release. Agree together in prayer today that when the Torch comes through your region, the intentions of the enemy will be bound, and the light of Jesus will shine out freely.
- More than Gold – ‘We have seen an historic, unprecedented 70 day cascade of praise and prayer in which thousands of people prayed using the different resources available and hundreds of churches engaged in prayer county by county, each blessing their communities, as the Torch Relay came through. Our unique Prayer Relay involved around 3,100 people in the prayer baton exchanges in 69 locations with 7:14 prayer events taking place in around 44 cities and towns.’
7:14 Prayer Mob (23/5)
- We prayed: 7:14 is an initiative to raise a ‘flash mob’ of prayer at 7:14pm in the centre of every city, town and village on the day after the Olympic Torch passes through. Pray that thousands will catch the vision to get out and pray together.
- From 7:14 website – 45 Events took place involving 2600 people
Overseas Missions Teams (16/5, 17/7, 1/8, 3/8)
- We prayed: Thank God for the Mission Teams coming from overseas to share God’s love on our streets this summer. Pray that, in communities where love is in short supply, God’s love be seen through them as they share their faith.
- More than Gold ‘The Mission Team department closed the application process on 1 July 2012 with 2445 mission team members (including creative & performing artists and sport teams) from 42 different nations that were planning to join the outreach initiative. Of the 2445 mission team members 2214 made it to the UK and attended one of the three blocks of orientation before they participated in their outreach project.’
- Water Stations (31/7, 4/9)
- We prayed: Prayer: Jesus you are the good shepherd who knows our needs. Bless those who receive the free gift of water at Salvation Army Water Stations, that they will be refreshed in every way.
- More than Gold – The role of the churches included giving out 500 000 bottles of water to visitors. And distributing 9,100 cups of water given during the three marathons.
Athletes Family Homestay (20/5, 26/6, 30/7)
- We prayed: Christian families will soon be hosting people coming to the UK to watch their loved-ones compete in the Games, who would otherwise not be able to afford to come. May warm hospitality speak volumes about the love and kindness of God.
- More than Gold report ‘The programme went live on 25th July with the first guests arriving. Family members of athletes enjoyed more than 2,000 nights of free hospitality. This involved 160 hosts welcoming 280 guests from more than 20 countries. The athletes supported won a total of 45 medals, including 8 golds. The main Olympic countries were USA, Germany, Mongolia, Madagascar, Australia, Portugal and South Africa. The last guests left the programme on the 14th.
- The programme will be looking after 63 guests during the Paralympics . The majority of guests are coming from Germany and the USA, then Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Canada and Singapore.’
Games Pastors (21/5, 23/6)
- We prayed: Pray for those getting ready to serve as Games Pastor, meeting the practical,emotional and spiritual needs of people passing through the major transport hubs. Pray the Lord will open their eyes to needs and opportunities and give them the wisdom to respond.
- More than Gold report ‘The overall number deployed was 297 Games Pastors with the numbers deployed each day ranged from 62 to 91 with an average deployment each day of 77 Games Pastors. It is estimated that Games Pastors by the end of the Olympics accumulated in excess of 13,000 hours of service supporting and assisting communities, Olympic travellers and staff in transport hubs at a total of 25 venues/areas covered. Many Games Pastors were engaged in conversations that were started by travellers. Also many conversations involving Games Pastors soon focused on personal issues affecting those people, faith, meaning of life. As a result many people requested prayer, people affirmed and also re-affirmed faith in Christ. Also several people made commitments to Christ (no specific numbers recorded)’
- Sports Ministry (25/5)
- We prayed: Thank God for churches in your area who are celebrating the gift of sport and using it to help people to come closer to the Good News of Jesus. Pray that this summer of sport will be a wonderful opportunity to impact people beyond the church.
- More than Gold report – Some 4,300 people – children, adults, teens – engaged in sport camps, clinics, etc during the Games.
Community Festivals (26/5, 4/6)
- We prayed: Pray for the many More Than Gold community festivals to be held across the nation this summer; that churches will be given courage and boldness to host events for all ages that will build community and open doors for the gospel to be shared.
- More than Gold report – The largest statistic released is the estimated 500,000 people attending community events run by churches. These included big screen festivals for the opening and closing ceremonies, family fun days and sport-based children’s clubs.
- This number was far greater than anticipated. South Buckinghamshire churches had expected 2,500 for their Run the Race festival but around 6,500 turned up. Isle of Dogs churches planned a festival for 500, with 4,000 turning up. Churches in Purley, Surrey catered for 400 and had to rush out for more supplies when almost double the number came.
Creative and Performing Arts (28/5)
- We prayed: A prayer: Father, we love the way you use the creative arts to tell your Good News. We pray for the blessing of your manifest presence on all street theatre taking place during the Games. May your message be heard through word and action.
- More than Gold report – We welcomed 40 teams of artists, involving about 440 individuals from over 30 nations, who gave some 700 free performances across 30 venues. Some of the highlights were outside Westminster Abbey and Southwark Cathedral where hundreds of people stopped each day to see drama, dance and musical performances. The praise trailer, coordinated in partnership with Street Angels, which hosted artists for church outreach projects around London was also a great success and offered many opportunities for people to hear and respond to the gospel. We saw several people come to faith through this project.
- We prayed: Pray God’s blessing on our weather systems: that the weather will not put anyone at risk of harm or accident, and that it will not disrupt the schedule in such a way that events can’t be run or completed.
- World Prayer Centre email on the 9 July 2012 – We at World Prayer Centre are now asking for urgent prayer to ask for God’s mercy on the weather patterns we are experiencing. This is being disastrous to those affected by flooding, providing our food (my brother is a farmer) as well as affecting our tourism, sporting activities and affecting our economic situation. We need the jet stream to move north for us to be able to honour the athletes and host an Olympic Games that we have been planning for many years.. Will you join us? There is a real danger of flooding by the Olympic Park if this doesn’t stop….
- China Daily – ” Even the weather improved as the Games wore on. Bright sunshine has graced the closing weekend of a festival that has helped to lift spirits in Britain.”
- BBC Website Forecast: After the wettest start to summer on record in southeast England, with more than double the usual amount of rainfall, you could be forgiven for thinking hopes for a sunny Olympic Games were not high.
- Verdict: In the lead up to the Opening Ceremony there were a few light showers, but thunderstorms that had worried forecasters stayed away to the east. Some very ‘British’ summer weather followed – breezy, showery and slightly cool for the time of year.
- For the thousands of athletes and spectators in and around London, the weather performed pretty well. Not many gold medals for warm sunshine until the last weekend, but the vast majority of events were unaffected by any weather-related delays or cancellations.
- London was mostly rain-free; however there were plenty of heavy showers and even some flooding across other parts of the UK. Temperatures were near or slightly below average, meaning heat stress was not a problem for either athletes or spectators.
- With a mix of sunshine, a few showers, and just the right amount of breeze, there should be at least a small space on the podium for the Great British weather.
100 Days of Peace (17/5, 8/6)
- We prayed: As the world gathers for the Olympics, nations are invited to observe a 100-day truce from civil and cross-border wars. Ask God to turn truce to peace in these coming months; that wars will cease and peace will prevail.
- UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemken 13 August – Turning to the Game’s numerous sporting successes, Mr. Lemke also celebrated the vast reduction in reports of doping among Olympic athletes while also applauding the demonstrations of dialogue and friendship on display throughout the two-week event.
- At the same time, he noted that while the global call for a cessation of hostilities around the world had not gone entirely heeded, it still had had a resounding effect on the Games themselves. “Even though a full observance of the Olympic Truce, meaning a cessation of hostilities during the Games, was not achieved, its spirit was definitely brought to life by a vast number of peace building and conflict prevention initiatives carried out worldwide, as well as by the exemplary behaviour shown by athletes, spectators and volunteers,” Mr. Lemke said.]
Integrity (11/7, 15/7, 1/8, 5/8)
- We prayed: Corruption has tarnished previous Games: drug-taking, bribery, cheating, touting. Pray for corruption-free Olympics, for sportsmanship, integrity, honesty and fairness to shape the Games, and to shape our own attitudes too.
- Dick Pound Daily Mail 18 August 2012 – the IOC conducted more than 6,000 blood and urine tests during the Olympics, catching out nine athletes.
Tim Harrold was a member of the MTG Prayer Team