On Saturday 27 March the Thames Gateway Prayernet (TGP) met at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (left).
The TGP is an informal network of intercessors along both sides of the river, supported and jointly facilitated by Transformation Thurrock, along with other networks such as Across Havering, Transform Newham, Love Southend, Medway Prayer and the Kent Prayer Partnership, loosely linking in with Global Day of Prayer London.
This was the latest in a series of such gatherings at various points along one of the world’s most well known and influential rivers. Six folk came together – five from the south and one from the north – to hear from God and follow his directions. It turned out to be yet another awesome and significant day.
Island Gardens, Isle of Dogs
Standing on the north bank, looking across to the Old Royal Naval College (below right), Rev Edward Wright (Cliffe, Hoo) blew his shofar as a call to arms and a call to prayer, and together we sang, He Is Lord. With signs of empire all around us, we prayed concerning the old – the Naval College – and the new – Canary Wharf.
From where we stood, the symmetry of the Naval College’s architecture reminded us of a gate, and so we declared Psalm 24 over the river, and asked for a return of the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord for people either side.
Pouring oil onto the land of the Isle of Dogs – the lower part of the London borough of Tower Hamlets – we released God’s healing into the land, the Kent folk bringing blessing from across the water. This action actually released something in our praying, and we began to flow and be led by the Holy Spirit.
Formerly, the Isle of Dogs had been mostly a wasteland, looked down upon by other areas. Some say it gets its name from being the isle of (false) gods. Certainly, and strangely, there happened to be a lot of dogs around! At the riverside, convicts would be hung in gibbets to be drowned at high tide, and folk would watch executions through spyglasses from Greenwich. We prayed for a lifting of sorrow and pain from the land.
We also poured mustard seeds onto the soil, representing new beginnings, spiritual prosperity and growth of faith in Christ. It was pointed out that even nature had tried to cut the Isle of Dogs off – the way the Thames curves round into almost an oxbow lake, speaks of an enforced sense of isolation. EastEnders’ dislocated community of Walford is based on this area of London, and Tower Hamlets is one of the poorest areas in Europe.
In contrast, Canary Wharf (left) has the reputation for worldly riches and material abundance. We prayed for the believers working within it and for the prevalent spiritual poverty within such an environment (John 10:10).
But we also thanked God that despite the negative trappings of empire and wealth, the area had brought great blessing. The Prime Meridian – a little to the east of where we stood – had allowed advances in navigation and therefore for the Good News of Jesus all over the world. Nations’ destinies were changed or realised because of the Meridian. The docks had provided employment, and the opportunity for trade and commerce. Mankind has indeed been blessed through this part of London!
Looking across the river we could see the Royal Observatory on the hill overlooking the Naval College. Above the big red sphere that marks the hours on top of the Observatory there appeared to be a weather vane that reminded us of a cross. We gave thanks to God that the Cross of Christ is the ultimate plumbline, reference point and ‘Prime Meridian’ for all humankind. Just as all space and time are measured from and centred at the Observatory, Jesus is our measure and measurer, our compass and navigator. As Edward said in his prayer, “All that will last and have meaning must be in alignment with the Cross”.
Liz Pooley (Dartford) referred to advances in astronomy made through the work at the Observatory, and made the point that all heaven declares the glory of the Lord, even the gospel being written in the stars and constellations (Psalms 19:1-6; 147:4).
At that moment, honk honk, two geese – the Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit – flew past us, honk honk, over the turning tide, honk honk.
It was then we noticed a small boat approaching, being rowed by children. It had sails and a flag – a pirate’s flag, with the skull and crossbones on it. We were reminded of the other side of the river – it’s symbol as a birthplace of domination, of evil threat, masonic influence, death and imperial greed. We cried mercy to God, and Edward poured oil over the railings into the water (right). It formed a rainbow on the surface, and we noticed that the high tide had receded slightly, and that the tide was turned, and so the oil of healing and mercy was being carried out to sea, out to the nations.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
We went down into the tunnel (left) and found the half way point where the two London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Greenwich have their boundary, marked by a white line. Edward blew the shofar, which reverberated along the narrow, white-tiled tube-like walls, and we sand He Is Lord again.
As we were standing at the deepest point below the surface of a Thames at almost full tide, we were led to counter the curse we had heard about that the Phoenicians had placed on the river in past millennia. The Phoenicians apparently cursed the heights of the air and the depths of land and water to establish commercial domination, sacrificing children as they did. In prayer, we broke any curses, and as we did the Spirit of God fell upon us in that Jonah-like dungeon-esque belly-of-the-beast place.
Immediately, Liz was filled with ‘joy unspeakable’, laughing uncontrollably for some time, going very pink! She described it as being like the euphoria that comes with the relief of giving birth. Others experienced God’s heavy presence upon them.
Tim Harrold had brought a wooden extending ruler with him, and he placed it across the white line to represent the Cross of Jesus, and while Edward poured out more oil, we again declared the plumb line, measuring stick and rulership of Christ in this hidden, deep place (right). Tim declared that Jerusalem – the church in London – would be so full that it would be a city without walls, only the Lord being the wall around it (Zechariah 2:1-5).
Someone said, “This is the underground church!” We agreed that that may indeed be what the Lord is saying through all this, especially since a few weeks ago we were in the Woolwich Foot Tunnel experiencing similar manifestations.
We also asked the Lord to make the white line a ‘thin place’ where the presence of the Holy Spirit would loiter. And because the rules of the tunnel included that there should be ‘no loitering’, we thought we’d better move on, although we could barely tear ourselves away. Liz was still giggling, and still pink!
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
We made our way along the river to the Water Gate and the Royal Steps, places where the Kings and Queens of the past had walked to their royal barges. We found shelter from the drizzly rain under an archway. A saxophone someplace quite close played and a man with a cello walked across the courtyard. Tim brought blessings to the south of the river from the north, and also from the outer east to the inner east.
We prayed that justice would be exercised and that what is hidden would be exposed. We felt like the elders in the gateway, and remembered that those who take the gates take the city. Being in an archway, there were no actual gates, which brought us back to Psalm 24 – ‘lift the gates’ means ‘take them off the hinges and throw them aside’, like Samson. Again, we asked that the King of Glory may come into this place of intellect and academia, blessing the believers who work and study in this rarified atmosphere, bring salvation to others.
Edward blew the shofar again, making the call to worship. We prayed for the unclean streams in the area to be cleansed. We threw mustard seeds on the ground as an act of sowing, breaking any curses of infertility upon believers, mindful of the Phoenicians and their fertility gods that would counter this.
We left the archway and made our way to the main square in order to plant mustard seeds in the ground. We came across an inscription on the ground (below right) which says:
the Tudor Palace of Greenwich
built by King Henry VII,
birthplace of King Henry VIII in 1491
and his daughters Queen Mary I in 1516
and Queen Elizabeth I in 1533
We noted the three generations of the royal line, and the fact of the division in the family and land that the sisters represented, and still do. Also, the beginnings of Empire and dominion. Edward read out Ephesians 2:14-22 and we prayed forgiveness for past divisions – praying for Catholics, Protestants, and those believers who don’t consider themselves to be either (all being shaken and purified at this time for various reasons) – and that the church of this nation would be one holy temple of the Lord.
We then went back over, through the Water Gate and down the Royal Steps to the river, where we repeated the actions of pouring oil and mustard seeds into the water. Liz had some salt and poured that in too, inspired by Elisha’s healing of the water in 2 Kings 2:19-21. Finally, Edward blew the shofar again, as a closing act of an incredible day.
After we parted company, Tim went to ‘Discover Greenwich’ – a display at the Tourist Information place. There, he found out more about Greenwich being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which probably means that the Olympic Torch will pass through here on its way to Stratford in 2012. It will also become a ‘Royal Borough’. He also found out that the Greenwich Palace had been demolished in the 1660s after it had fallen into disuse and eventual ruin.
Just up the road is the Greenwich Market, with its stalls selling hot food and snacks from every conceivable culture. There were art stalls, craft stalls, jewellery stalls and book stalls. The place was thronging. There was a palmist, who received discreet prayer, hopefully rendering her operations useless but opening her spiritual eyes to the truth of Jesus. Over the market entrance there is an inscription from Proverbs 11:1 (left) that reads:
but a just weight is His delight
On his way back through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, Tim loitered again at the white line of the Greenwich – Tower Hamlets boundary. The presence of the Lord was still loitering there! He got well and truly zapped all over again… and then, slightly ‘drunk’, made his way back to a not so sunny Thurrock and Grays.
(Reporting this event to a couple from Grays Baptist Church in the foyer at the Grays branch of Morrisons later, they got a brief zap from God!)
>>> The next TGP Day is Saturday 19 June – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
>>> On Wednesday 14 July, the TGP will be going on a Prayer Pilgrimage to St Peter’s Chapel, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex – built by St Cedd in 654 – to retrace Ancient Paths and re-dig the well of Celtic connections. Former East Tilbury residents the Revs Laurence & Margaret Whitford will lead us in a Celtic communion and give us a history lesson.
Fancy a grand day out with the Thames Gateway Prayernetters (right)? For more info, please contact Tim Harrold.