|The 2010 Global Day of Prayer London event took place last Sunday (13 June). Billed as a National Prayer Event, prominent Christian leaders and artists took to the stage to lead the gathered in prayer and worship.
GDOP returned to West Ham’s football ground at Upton Park, having held the event there in 2008, for this year’s event. The hope was for 25,000 people to attend, but in reality it was nearer 12,000 people, attendance perhaps not helped by the change of date (from 31 May) and the usual travel chaos on the Tube. Nevertheless, there was a good atmosphere and a sense of the presence of God in the music and supplications.
Quite a few believers made the journey from Thurrock to the borough of Newham to attend the three hour long service which reflected the many expressions of the Christian faith in London and the UK. Folk from Grays, Chafford Hundred, Aveley and Stanford-le-Hope were reportedly present – and no doubt people from a few other of Thurrock’s towns as well. (Below right: Thurrock’s Avril Singh and Barbara Brown meet Avril and Andrew Betts-Brown of Castle Point.)
Church representatives networked and ate together before hearing speeches from Dr Hugh Osgood (President of Churches in Communities International and Co-Chair of GDOP London), Peter Watherston (Chairman, Transform Newham), the Rt Rev David Hawkins (Bishop of Barking and Chair of GDOP London), Dr Jonathan Oloyede (Convener of GDOP London and pastor at City Chapel, Becton), and Stephen Timms MP for East Ham and a Christian.
Jonathan said, “This is a time to unite across denominations and cultures and different ages. Wembley Stadium next year, will be a watershed to tip the nation into her destiny. This nation belongs to Christ and can only be transformed by prayer, unity and evangelism. Today the church drove a stake into the ground and we drew a line and said in the spirit that this nation belongs to Jesus. I believe the unity of the church is powerful and significant as we march towards a national day of prayer at Wembley stadium in 2011.”
Stephen, still recovering from surgery, chose to come to Upton Park to make his first public appearance since being the victim of an unprovoked stabbing attack. He said: “I’m well on the road to recovery. I’ve been greatly helped by a very large number of people praying for me. “I’m a big fan of Global Day of Prayer. It’s a wonderful celebration and reflects the fact that the church is growing in London and is a remarkably diverse group of congregations, but one in their faith in Christ.”
Jonathan Oloyede led the main event with the help of Debra Green (another friend of Thurrock) of Redeeming Our Communities. She brought greetings to the City of London from the City of Manchester, where she is based and seen so many answers to prayer.
Debra says in the GDOP programme: “I have been very struck by the word ‘coalition’ in the aftermath of the recent General Election. This has interesting connotations for the church and the nation. The word coalition comes from the Latin word ‘coalitus’ which means ‘to grow together’. How fascinating when we consider the prayer of Jesus for his church in John 17 ‘that they may all be one’. From time to time we see that political groups form a coalition party to overpower the opposing party or to pursue a ‘common mission’. In military parlance, the coalition refers to nations dedicated to a military unified under a single command. As we unite under one command, with a common mission, we can see our communities transformed. This is a time when we need to pray for our Government and public services more than ever before. I am privileged to be a art of the Global Day of Prayer London. As I represent the city of Manchester it is wonderful to see a coalition forming between our cities for the good of the nation. Let’s join our voices as one and see transformation here on earth as it is in heaven.”
The programme included sections of worship lead by such artists as Bev Trotman (X Factor Finalist), Lara Martin, Muyiwa, Noel Robinson, Graham Kendrick, Dave Bilborough and Godfrey Birtill. They were accompanied by the All Souls Orchestra and a choir specially assembled for the day. There were also dancers.
The event was based on the words of the Lord’s Prayer, and was given the over all theme, Our Father In Heaven – Heal Our Land. The initial worship was entitled Hallowed Be Thy Name. The prayer had the title of Thy Kingdom Come.
“We stand on turf consecrated to the beautiful game at the beginning of the World Cup and today as Christians we are celebrating the beautiful life through the power of the Holy Spirit,” said the Bishop David Hawkins from the stage. “We want to thank you for coming together to pray in unity for the transformation of the city and our nation.”
The crowd was welcomed, and then Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, came onto the stage to a rousing reception (left). He made a short speech recognising the work of Christians across the capital, and talked about the need to mentor a generation of young people. “I congratulate all of you who have come here today because you could be watching the world cup,” he said. In referring to England’s disappointing start to the World Cup, Boris shared a parallel to Christianity: “I believe passionately that the message of the Christian faith is that you can come back if you don’t get the best possible start in life, because there are people to help you. That’s what Christianity means to me and that’s what Christian groups do all over London.” Jonathan and others on the stage then prayed for Boris.
In the event programme, Boris says: “I’ve seen so many things across London that are being done by people in faith groups. Church organisations who care about other people in their communities and are doing a fantastic amount of good voluntarily across London. I’d like to thank you for that. And also I want to support what you’re doing by praying. I think if you look at what’s happening in British politics I think it’s perfectly obvious that we all need someone to pray for us right now. I hope you’ll do that. Thank you very much and keep on praying.”
The prayer sections were as follows:
Give Us This Day – Children
Our Daily Bread – Youth
Deliver Us From Evil – the persecuted church and suffering UK Christians
Lead Us Not Into Temptation – including a Declaration for the Nation
For Thine Is The Kingdom – The GDOP Vision
The last item was the speaker Tony Anthony, founder of Avanti Ministries and Love Southend. Tony delivered what was more like a seminar with a fast-moving, information-packed Powerpoint which was both a challenge to prioritise evangelism (as opposed to social action) and an advert for his up-and-coming Passion Conference (‘returning passion, purpose and priority to the church’) in Emmanuel Church, Marsham Street, Westminster on 17 July (see www.avantiministries.com).
Finally, each of the main worship leaders took it in turns to lead a song, the highlight being Godfrey Birtill’s emotive anthem Lord Turn Your Footsteps.
In the programme there was a whole page dedicated to the M25 Nutcracker. There were pictures of Thurrock’s Phil Anderson and Tim Harrold (left) – and Hornchurch’s Linda Holt – from the Nutcracker prayer flight, along with one of the photos of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge from 2000ft.
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For more news about the National Prayer Event at West Ham, please go to www.gdoplondon.com.