On Sunday May 31st history was made in York, as Christians climbed the ancient walls of the city and prayed there. Hundreds and hundreds of watchmen from churches of every spectrum joined in prayer as trumpets blew to trigger different attitudes of prayer.
Over the past few years there have been prophecies, visions and dreams about the church encircling the walls of the city, and so it was with some excitement that many church leaders saw them fulfilled.
Some were quiet, some were discrete and others were plain noisy, but a prophetic act of prayer by the whole church disturbed the heavens!
We began by facing into the city, praying for local government, services, businesses, education and for revival in York.
After a further trumpet blast we faced out of the city praying for surrounding villages, towns and our nation. Again we prayed for revival to come to our nation and that something of what God is doing in York would flow outwards.
After our next trumpet call we changed our attitude to pray upwards. It was of course Pentecost Sunday and we lifted our eyes to the heavens to pray for a new Pentecost over our city and nation. We called for God to send his breath form heaven on us again, that once more the Holy Spirit would empower the church to carry the good news to all.
A final trumpet blast instructed us to move on to York Minister. It was a wonderful sunny day. York was thronged with locals and visitors enjoying the brilliant weather. As part of this scene a huge precession of Christians made their way through the city centre to the ancient place of worship.
With over 1200 people present the events in York Minster began with a section aimed at families with children. Dave Godfrey’s Omega Zone team lead us in singing and holy fun. We learned a song specially written for the occasion called “If my people” that concluded with the statement that “The promise of 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse 14 still stands!”
We prayed for the nations by gathering around flags or pointing to them and praying for the prayer points attached to them or displayed on the projection screens. The praying over flags was concluded with a song about banners which went down very well with a lot of wave offerings to the Lord!
A number of children came to the microphone and made their prayers aloud. At this time we also welcomed the new civic party onto the stage – the Lord Mayor and his Lady, the Sherriff of York and her consort. It was a privilege to involve them in prayer with us and bless them at the start of their year of service to our city.
After this a ‘prayer parade’ began as we began to walk around the Minster to different prayer zones that had been established.
The York Zone had maps, photos and information sheets about our city with summary points to empower our praying. We prayed for every councillor, local MP’s and the candidates for the upcoming European elections. We prayed over local policing, education, health, tourism and business issues. We also prayed over the four gates of the city, tearing down spiritual strongholds. Finally we prayed for the churches of York and our own Archbishop Sentamu.
The choir area was filled with Taize prayer – music and chants that filled the building adding to the atmosphere. Quiet contemplative prayer and dynamic prayer had their own sections of the building where people could dip in and out as they wished. Urban Saints ran the ‘dynamic prayer’ with parachutes, drums and other musical instruments.
Digital prayer in the crypt was a popular area as people were engaged with technology to help them pray.
In the small chapels either side of the building there was space for people to write their prayers as ‘notes to God’.
All around the inside of the minster there were points at which there were large displays of ideas for prayer surrounding our key themes of ‘the Economy’, ‘Family’, ‘Education’, ‘Law & Justice’ and ‘Religion’. As people paraded around these zones they would pause for a moment to select key prayer points and then walk on in prayer to the next zone.
With this multiplicity of types of prayer and the choice available to engage in these different streams, everyone was involved and found their place to express themselves to God.
We were then called back to the Nave with a song, after which Jane Holloway, Global Day of Prayer UK Coordinator gave us a national and global update.
We then spent some time celebrating together in song, rejoicing in what God had already done on this glorious day!
Finally we left the building lead by the civic party and a crowd of people carrying flaming torches. As the crowd gathered outside the Minster for one last moment we made declarations over ourselves and the city culminating with ‘we declare your healing over our people and our land’.
Global Day of Prayer 2009 was certainly a day that the churches of York will remember for a long time to come. Many commented that this was the greatest of the five years we have celebrated together.
Without doubt we believe that we will live to see the effects of our prayer as the tempo increases and we see the hand of God move over our city and land. We believe that ‘Prayer on the Walls’ is going to be one of those events that so many of us can turn around and say that ‘I was there the night it happened’.
We were especially grateful for the full support of the City of York Council for “Prayer on the Walls” and their recognition of the event. A team of dedicated stewards from various churches helped make the event a safe and ordered one.
Above all we are grateful to God for his presence, and for being the God who answers.
Photos: Derek Ralphs/ David Copeland