Thurrock’s church was represented on the floating prayer meeting up the River Thames on Saturday (19 September), organised by the Thames Gateway Prayernet.
144 people packed onto the Princess Pocahontas as it made its way from Gravesend to Westminster Bridge and back. The Lord blessed us with fine weather and a favourable tide. Joining with people from across Kent were intercessors from Havering, Brentwood, Castle Point and Southend, as well as Thurrock.
The Pocahontas left the quay at about 10.45am, Captain Dave Simmonds (above) praying us on our way. Thames Gateway Prayernet’s Rev Edward Wright of St Helen’s, Cliffe (opposite East Tilbury), donned his Jewish shawl and blew his shofar down the tannoy, and declared that as we were ‘a diverse group carrying blessing to London’, the call to us was to ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humble and for each other, despite our theological differences’.
It was a prophetically appropriate day for such an activity as it was the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah – and the Hebraic theme kept coming up throughout the trip. I urged folk to therefore greet each other with the traditional Hebrew, ‘L’shana tova’, which means ‘Happy New Year’.
We also declared together Psalm 24, which includes the words:
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
Because of the lay-out of the ship, there were a number of activities occurring at once, but we all managed to join in some initial worship as we were swept upriver with the incoming tide.
We had two speakers, who spoke twice, taking it in turns on the upper and lower decks. Nigel Sykes of the Warwick Business School (below) spoke on ‘Coming In The Opposite Spirit’ (that is, doing it God’s way, opposite to the world) and talked about redeeming the land and unlearning the Greek mindset of how are world is constructed. He explained the difference between the Greek worldview (which compartmentalises the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’) and the holistic worldview of Hebraic tradition. Nigel told us about new models of thinking in the business world and how these ideas are beginning to take hold, especially in the wake of the economic downturn. He told the story of one Columbian architect who was led by God to found a fruit juice company that is releasing young people from the drug and alcohol trades because it is proving to be a better crop than drugs, and the juice is is becoming a ‘must have’ in bars and at functions at such places as the Dorchester Hotel, because it is the best on the market.
The other speaker was Terry Diggines of the A Call To Business – he spoke on ‘Praying For The Market Place’. Terry said that Christian businessmen, a much neglected group, are like an army needing mobilisation. This neglect is caused by a wrong view held by the church about what the church actually is (ekklesian – a governing body) and a lack of understanding of its roots in a Hebrew worldview. The result is a ‘sacred’/’secular’ dualism that excludes anyone feeling a call to work in the marketplace. Terry has recently seen 120 businessmen coming together to pray in the City. It’s their area of authority and so they have the anointing to pray in power. He cites the basis of his ‘call to business’ in the first chapters of Genesis where Adam worked in the garden in relationship with God – the word ‘work’ (‘abad’ or ‘ebed’) can also mean ‘minister’, ‘worship’ or ‘serve’. Jesus told the parable of the man of noble birth who commanded his servants to ‘put this money to work’, that is, do business… Through Christ’s redemptive lifting of the curse, we can see business transformed! (The picture below shows Terry leading prayer as we sailed past Canary Wharf.)
Reaching the Thames Barrier was the signal for prayers led by various people with expertise on subjects and prophetic insights into themes. As the Pocahontas went upstream, the following places and related topics were covered:
Thames Barrier – flooding and global warming
Millennium Dome/O2 – entertainment etc.
Greenwich – the Prime Meridian (where east meets west)
Canary Wharf – financial institutions, credit crunch (affected more so than Square Mile); Christians in business, especially some believers in key positions within banking and with relation to the Olympics
Wapping – the press and its morality
The Tower of London – history, empire, monarchy, death by murder and execution; oil was poured into the Thames here for healing, restoration and cleansing
Baynards Castle (no longer there) – the end of the Square Mile
The City – financial institutions, credit crunch; Christians in business
The Law Courts – justice and mercy
Whitehall and Westminster – government and parliament; the PM; MPs (especially in the wake of the expenses scandal); Christian MPs; the Party Conference season; foreign policy and current conflicts; Christians working in government departments
We turned round at that point (at about 1.15pm). Edward and others blew their shofars in the centre of the nation (praying, right, and blowing the shofar at the heart of the nation, below). Our prayers continued as we headed back downstream towards the Estuary:
Tate Modern and the Southbank – creative arts and media: for Christian artists, designers, musicians and writers to be raised up, touching all areas of the gallery, fashion, architecture, media and entertainment industries, producing art, designs, music and books of excellence and prophetic content etc.; oil was poured into the Thames here for healing, restoration and cleansing
Globe Theatre – we prayed against the orphan spirit in the City of London and the nation, sensed close to the Globe; fathers and sons on the boat were called together to pray in the opposite spirit
St Paul’s & Southwark Cathedral – the church and her witness to our nation at this moment in history; against religious spirits and for a release of the Holy Spirit; for blessing upon all Christians worshipping in London; repentance and reconciliation between a few who acknowledged they’d been ‘hurt by church’ and any who felt they’d perhaps inflicted such hurts
City Hall – Greater London Council and the Mayor of London
Deptford – site of former army and naval supplies’ depots
Greenwich – naval and maritime history
Blackwall Steps – deporting of convicts and Jews to Australia – reconciliation with the latter, to which was exported alcoholism
Woolwich – the former Royal Arsenal and arms dealing
Stratford – the Olympics (see Terry’s talk below)
Queen Elizabeth II Bridge – unity and links between denominations, Kent and Essex, Dartford and Thurrock, north and south, and the UK and Europe; referred to the whale which dies there on 12 September (first sighted on 10th) – event occurred 7 days after a ‘sign’ was prayed for – the meaning of this isn’t currently understood; a coal from Wales was dropped from the stern of the Pocahontas for cleansing and reviving ‘wildfire’
The Thames – for protection of people living and working on the river; for recognition by and for the church as ‘gatekeepers of the gateway’ but requiring wisdom for how to pray
During our return journey, Terry Diggines did another talk, this time on ‘Praying For The Olympics’. Terry had been told by God to expect the Olympics to come to London and so sees the games as a gift. His belief is that God wants his church to be so evident at the Olympics – which he saw coming to London ahead of time – that the world will be deeply affected by the Gospel. He emphasised that the Olympics need to ride in on transformation of the region, which is the order God wants it to happen: some of this is already happening e.g. City Airport, ExCel Centre, DLR – God placed these infrastructures in the first place. (Stratford is part of the Thames Gateway development region.) Terry emphasised the need to pray for Christians in all areas of the sporting arena, including athletes and Chaplains, and told us about the ‘More Than Gold’ initiative to get the church connected into the Olympics and Paralympics. (NB: Thurrock’s Christians need to become more aware of and engaged in the massive opportunity the Olympics presents to us – God wants us not not spectate but take part!)
John Fleetwood and Moira Dare-Edwards from Operation Exodus – which helps Jews return to their homeland in accordance with scripture – also did a talk on ‘Praying For Israel’. We were encouraged to pray along the following points of Biblical prophecy:
– God’s warning to the nations (Genesis 12:1-3)
– God’s judgment on Israel (Leviticus 26:14-15,23)
– God will bring his people back and restore them (Nehemiah 1:8-9; Isaiah 11:11-12.16; Isaiah 43:1-2,5-6,13)
– ‘Bring my sons and daughters from the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 43:6; Isaiah 49:22 [role of the Gentiles]; Isaiah 60:4,8-12 [by air]; Amos 9:13-15; Zechariah 2:6-7; Zechariah 8:20-23)
– Jesus’ words (Matthew 24:30-31 [gathering of his elect from the four corners of the earth]; Matthew 25:40)
– The Debt the Gentile owes to the Jew (Romans 11:1,11,15,25-31)
– For the sake of God’s Holy Name (Ezekiel 36:21-23)
Someone wrote on the ‘prophetic wall’ that was provided Jeremiah 33:3-11 – ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the houses in this city and the royal palaces of Judah that have been torn down to be used against the siege ramps and the sword in the fight with the Babylonians: ‘They will be filled with the dead bodies of the men I will slay in my anger and wrath. I will hide my face from this city because of all its wickedness. “‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.’ “This is what the LORD says: ‘You say about this place, “It is a desolate waste, without men or animals.” Yet in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are deserted, inhabited by neither men nor animals, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD, saying, “Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD is good; his love endures forever.” For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,’ says the LORD.
There was another session of worship, and as we came under the QE2 Bridge, everyone on board was urged to pray with someone from another denomination or from another county. We arrived back at Gravesend at about 4.30pm, and Gary Seithel of Across Havering and one of the Thames Gateway Prayernet facilitators, blew the shofar to announce our return to port (see above). John Simmonds, the captain, prayed a closing prayer, and looked forward to ‘next time’…
Pleasantly tired with deeply-filled lungs of fresh, river air, the Essexites made their way back across to Tilbury and drive back to their homes for a lazy but satisfied, fulfilled and happy evening in.
Our thanks to Ros Pople, the trip’s incredibly well-organised administrator; to Kim Saunders who put the splendidly detailed prayer maps together; and to Dave Simmonds, Captain of the Princess Pocahontas, and his crew, for taking care of us all so wonderfully.
The East Gate Lament for London
(Luke 13.34 & 1 Sam 3.1)
The rhema words of God expose a heritage of stone
Still the prophet’s ears are listening for instruction from the throne
For the sound that pierces darkness, enabling him to see
The joy and peace you long to bring,
As you release the Jubilee.
Bless our city, Lord – we call to it by name
As you called Jerusalem when you wept about her shame
We’ve ignored these faithful prophets and stoned them for their part
And we call for raising up
Of apostolic hearts.
We are weak and losing sight without an awe-filled fear,
So through the darkened night, our eyes are filled with tears
And in the blaze of day, we strain in desperation,
As we watch and wait and pray,
Impatient for our nation.
We mourn our broken city but seek your resurrection power
To see her shine again in your redemptive hour!
Restore the hope deferred that makes your people sick
A release of hope in grief – for
East, West, North and South!
Our hearts fill with desire Lord, as we wait upon the wall
Patient, waiting watchmen, listening for the call
We declare the East Gate open, Lord…that the stones they will be broken
We invite you Lord to come and
Establish here your throne room!
© Jane Almond
coming in 2010 – www.thamesgatewayprayer.com!
The next Thames Gateway Prayer Day is on Saturday 7 November when people from Essex will gather to pray at Coldharbour Point near Rainham at 3pm, while people on the Kent side pray at the end of Erith Pier. To get Coldharbour Point, take Ferry Lane south off the A13. Follow this until you come to Coldharbour Lane on your left, and follow that until you reach the Thames.
If you weren’t able to join us on the Pocahontas voyage of prayer and you’d like to be included on the Thames Gateway Prayernet email list to receive news about future happenings and prayer actions, please contact Tim Harrold on firstname.lastname@example.org.
written by Tim Harrold with help of scribe-for-the-day Jane Almond (Havering)