It never ceases to amaze me that God wants to involve us in the process of redeeming this earth for His glory. If we pray, God in His great mercy hears our prayers and moves heaven and earth on our behalf. ‘Well I know that,’ I hear you say, but the question really has to be, ‘How much more should we pray?’
In 2011 I attended the scariest prayer meeting I had ever been to! London was in the grip of terror amidst escalating riots arson and random acts of madness all over the capital. Our church had moved from Haringey to Enfield and when I heard the churches of Haringey were meeting to pray in the heart of Tottenham I felt compelled to join them. I wanted to stand in unity with my brothers and sisters who had seen their community torn apart with buildings raised to the ground, cars overturned, and buses abandoned. The meeting was taking place at High Cross, a stone cross in the middle of Tottenham’s one-way system. It was normally a manic intersection with traffic flying in every direction but on this day it was strangely quiet as the roads had been blocked off.
I remember the view up the High Road to this day. The police cordon had left it looking like a photo – a moment of madness caught in time. The area where we met was crowded with people. Many had come to pray, but all around us were groups of people hanging around or stirring up the crowds.
The prayer meeting was started by various leaders and dignitaries speaking through a loudhailer, but within minutes of us starting a young man with a much more powerful loud hailer started to shout and stir the crowd up. His intent clearly was to incite violence. I was desperate for the talking to stop and the prayer to start. The moment it did the atmosphere started to change! Was it just me? No. I could see on the faces of those around me that they were feeling it too. It was not the loudest or the longest prayer meeting I had been to, but I could feel the peace of God driving out the fear in our hearts and a tangible shift in the atmosphere.
Now here is when it gets exciting or terrifying depending on your perspective. The moment we finished praying, the atmosphere changed, the tension mounted, and trouble broke out right next to us.
We quickly gathered a group in a circle and started to sing and pray. Around the edge of the circle this angry guy was pacing around looking for trouble, shouting, and screaming at the Christians. As we prayed, a cameraman maneuvered himself into the centre of the circle and started filming. This made the angry guy even angrier. He pushed through into the centre of the circle, grabbed hold of the camera and the tripod and flung it out of the circle, narrowly missing the heads of the praying Christians. Pushing his way out of the circle he just continued pacing up and down looking for trouble. Praying with one eye open, we all were wondering how long it would be before he attacked someone.
The next moment I remember is calling out to God and asking what on earth do we do next? I heard the voice of God so clearly saying ‘Pray that the enemy turns against himself.’ Within minutes of praying these words, another angry man came flinging around the corner, intent on confrontation. He saw Angry Guy and the two started fighting. After throwing a few wild punches, Angry Guy 1 ran around the corner into the distance, hotly pursued by Angry Guy 2. We all took a breath, prayed a while longer and once more peace descended. We took this as our cue to leave.
The Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing and I am learning to take note of this. If we want to truly keep the powers of darkness at bay, we really need to make prayer a lifestyle and pray so much more!
Dave Wisker is the pastor of New River Church and helps lead the Enfield Borough unity group.