Another Thames Gateway Prayer Day, Another Thames Gateway
Eight people gathered at the crack in the middle of the bridge – three from the south of the river; three from the north; and two from… Australia. We stood on the eastern downstream side of the bridge looking towards Canary Wharf, Greenwich, and eventually the Thames Estuary.
These were: Rev Edward Wright (St Helen’s, Cliffe); Trevor Clarke (Medway Towns Prayer); Liz Pooley (Dartford); Jane Almond (Havering); Sally Rickard (HTB and City Prayernet); Marion and Sue from ‘Down Under’; and Tim Harrold (Transformation Thurrock).
Tim and Marion had previously met in May 2006 at The Turn Of The Tide’s concluding service at All Hallows-by-the-Tower – she was in London tracing the family lines of he great-great-great grandparents who had met and fell in love on a deportation ship.
And down under through the crack we could see the brown dirt river of muddied history flowing relentlessly out through the City, past the Essex and Kent coasts to the North Sea. For the height of midsummer, the wind was too keen and the clouds too plenty.
On the Eastside
Edward opened the proceedings with a blow of his shofar. There was a sense of a call to, into and throughout the physical and heavenly realms, a pronouncement of prophetic enactment about to take place. It was like the sounding of a Narnian trumpet through the dimensions, deep calling to deep. This small group of anonymous people on a mission from God began their influencing of the spiritual atmosphere over that place.
We then joined with Edward as he anointed the handrail with oil at the point of the crack and immediately we felt God’s divine presence, but we hardly noticed the passers by and they didn’t notice us. Liz and Tim tied the ends of some red cotton to each side of the bridge – next too some padlocks that people had attached onto the mesh there.* The red thread represented Christ’s blood, which would be poured out when the bridge opened.
Edward led us in what has now become a standard for the Thames Gateway Prayernet – the declaring together of Psalm 24, connecting what has gone before at the various points downstream where we’d met over the previous 18 months and this prayer action today.
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Saviour.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.
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.
Tim prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit and dedicated this time to the Lord Jesus Christ, that our prayers and actions should be only those we will be led into by his direction.
We prayed concerning the trade routes out of London across the world. Jane feels these trade routes are established by God, but that man has abused them. The fact that the Australian ladies were present were a confirmation of these thoughts, and so we prayed in repentance for the empire-building and the bleeding dry of other nations’ resources – sucking them of their wealth – for our own benefit.
The river is like a gaping mouth that needs to be shut, and the city like a ship on the seas, a financial city-state. There is a battle over the wealth God has blessed us with – it is meant for the dissemination of the gospel around the globe. It is the job of Great Britain to take the Word to the nations, not the world to the nations. Edward prayed and sank to his knees, and some of us followed. It was a moment of surrender. We repented of the empire spirit – adopted from the Romans, who raped the Mediterranean and Europe – redeem this ‘mouth’ that it may speak ‘Word’ not ‘world’, declaring Lamentations 3:37-38.
Who is he that says, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commands it not?
Out of the mouth of the most High proceeds not evil and good?
From Tower Bridge we could see that moored alongside HMS Belfast was a French battleship. This reminded us of just how much death has been sent out from the Thames into the world – we repented, and prayed for transformational life to be sent out from these waters that flow through our capital city.
More oil was poured down through the crack, this time into the waters below, along with salt for the healing of the river, like Elisha in 2 Kings 2:19-21.
The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”
“Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.
Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ ”
Marion the Aussie expressed how much she appreciated the repentance towards her nation and the request for forgiveness. She said how important this was, but told us that whilst the white Australians have been able to find forgiveness for the past, it’s been a lot harder for the indigenous Aborigines, whose hurt goes very deep. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_history_of_Western_Australia for a brief overview of this.)
Openings and Closings
At around 12.15pm we were asked by a steward to leave the bridge as it was about to open. Edward suggested that the southerners walk off to the north, and the northerners walk off to the south – which we did. The bridge didn’t open immediately but when it did it was for a tall masted schooner to head out to the east.
When we reconvened back at our position we found, of course, that the red thread had broken. Marion recalled the scripture from Isaiah 1:18 – “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Liz prayed that just as the bridge opens, then a highway of holiness would be established.
Then Sally suggested we have communion, and spoke of the symbol of agreement that that represents – in Jewish custom, the prospective bride drank the ‘cup of agreement’ at the bridegroom’s house, thus becoming betrothed. Jane read from Luke 22:7-20, the passage that connects Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana with the Last Supper via the man with the water pot who was preparing the Upper Room for a wedding breakfast…
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Once more, we felt God’s presence. Sally prayed a breaking of the curse over the nation for forgetting out Hebraic roots, and for the Queen and her authority.
We’d shut down the trade routes, but opened the new. Isaiah 22:22,23 and Revelation 3:7 was read aloud –
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honour for the house of his father.
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
More oil was poured onto the crack, this time to represent the sealing of our prayers and the release of the Holy Spirit, flowing relentlessly through geography and history like the River Thames.
On the Westside
We crossed the busy bridge and stood on the crack on the other said, facing upstream. Sally threw the rest of the bread from our communion together down through the crack into the river, re-enacting Ecclesiastes 11:1 –
Cast your bread upon the waters,
for after many days you will find it again.
Thinking of the City – possibly the most important financial centre in the world – we prayed for Godly dealing, righteous trade and fair trading, and that ‘man’s word would be his bond’.
The French warship warship provoked us to pray for a new Godly coming together of our two nations, so closely related and bound throughout history, yet also having their differences. We prayed for the healing of old wounds and the UK’s relations with Europe as a whole. It was noted that this week saw the 70th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s famous wartime radio speech urging France’s people to rise up in resistance against their Nazi invaders, and so Tim – with the help of Sally’s translation – gave the call in the Spirit for the French Christians to arise in resistance against the forces of darkness and for the communication of the gospel of ultimate victory in these days of spiritual battle. (He recalled that the people he’d met a few weeks ago at Loughton’s Agape London prayer room who had come from the Paris Prayer Room – they’d said that France has less Christians than Japan!)
Tim then prayed ‘back’ to the Source of the Thames, that little nondescript corner of a field in the Gloucestershire countryside near Kemble. On two occasions he’s prayed with others at the Source – once at the culmination of The Turn Of The Tide 24-28 prayer month of October 2005 – and poured out oil, wine, salt and mustard seeds as seedling-symbols of salvation, redemption, healing and sanctification wherever the Thames flows and beyond. He prayed for such cities as Reading and Oxford and all the towns and villages across the land of the United Kingdom in between, wherever the tributaries rise and fall, wherever the water soaks into the land.
Just as we finished praying, the Princess Pocahontas pleasure steamer emerged from under the bridge!
We heard there had been rumours of angels. Angels on the gantries. Angels swinging their legs in joyous childlike glee. Angels laughing and singing, “We know what you’re doing!”
We went our separate ways at about 2pm. Sally, Jane and I walked along the riverfront by the Tower of London. The medieval stronghold thrust heavily into the air in a statement of strength, power and conqueror’s glory. Throngs of tourists went about their tourism oblivious to the momentous shifts in the heavenlies around them. The mouth of the Traitors’ Gate was shut. The old order is rapidly changing.
* Liz says she mentioned the padlocks on the bridge to her son, who has just returned from Italy, and he said there were loads of them on the bridges in Florence and Rome. Apparently they are left by couples as a sign of their love for each other – so they represent marriage, agreement, covenant and love, a theme we would keep returning to during our time on the bridge.
The next scheduled Thames Gateway Prayernet activity is a Celtic Prayer Pilgrimage to St Peter’s Chapel at Bradwell, built by the Northumbiran monk from Lindisfarne St Cedd in 654, on Wednesday 14 July. Revs Laurence & Margaret Whitford will lead us in a Celtic-style communion and give some historical background to aid us in our prayers. This is a very special ‘thin place’, unique to south east Britain. All are welcome. We are aiming to arrive at the car park closest to the chapel at 11am. Bring a packed lunch.
We hope to have more news about the next Thames Gateway Prayer Voyage on the Princess Pocahontas before the summer break.
For more info about the TGP, contact Tim Harrold on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 929 878 089
Pictures, top to bottom:
- Tower Bridge plaque
- Tim, Edward and some of the group
- Edward blowing the shofar with Australians Marion and Sue in the background
- The red thread across the gap
- Psalm 24
- Oil being poured over the crack
- Kneeling in repentance
- Salt being poured into the Thames
- The Bridge opens – tall masted ship passing through
- The Cup of Agreement
- Looking down through the crack – bridging the gap
- Sealing the prayers with oil
- Tower Bridge from the Tower of London
- The Princess Pocahontas emerges from under the bridge – HMS Belfast and French ship to left
- Traitors’ Gate at the Tower of London
- ‘Tri-Circle’ padlock on the bridge