The Call to Watch and Pray
(by Steve Botham)
EVERY TOWN NEEDS A RANGE OF WATCHERS
Some years ago, the World Prayer Centre in Birmingham, England called a wide range of ‘watchers’ together. We were people who came from houses of prayer, prayer organisations, and other Christian movements, and we often viewed our world and places differently from each other. Some carried a heart for children, others for the political sphere, some carried a heart for the countryside, others for their city and its struggles.
So, who was in the wrong? None of us; God had developed our passion and focus in different ways but together we saw a clear more distinct picture.
I am part of a UK organisation called the Gather Movement; it brings towns and cities together, to focus on transformation and Kingdom impact. It is part of a global movement seeing many cities changed by unity, a call to prayer, a desire to shape and impact their place. The God who sent us out to baptize nations has a plan and purpose for our cities. The call for the watchmen is to know God’s heart and hear his voice.
I want to share my perspective. It may be different from yours because there is a rich diversity in those called to watch.
THE VITAL IMPORTANCE OF WISDOM!
I love the call to pursue wisdom and understanding in Proverbs. In Southampton the churches met to look at the ‘cost of living’ crisis with support from their local University and council. The University showed the areas of greatest poverty – these will also be the areas of greatest mental health issues for adults and children, they will be places of anxiety over the bills and where their next food comes from. In the UK they will often be places where people of different races are much more likely to have health risks and reduced opportunities. Where can you find the wisdom about your city?
Listen to people on the front line of issues like youth violence. They want to prevent young people getting into knife crime and to support the victim’s families. But they often feel the church does not understand their situation or pray for change. 1/3rd of young people in London are filled with fear – of gangs and drugs and violence. This shapes their generation. Are the watchers watching?
Prayer walking with our eyes open. There is an important call to stand in God’s presence and see what is around us. Is this a place of hope or fear? Is it a place that is thriving or falling?
Watchers and ‘social action’ should be allies, but often they sit in separate camps. My church has a money advice ministry – with 70 people queuing for advice; people with enormous debts were helped to turn their lives around. It is Kingdom social action, and many have come to Christ. The watcher’s challenge is that in the areas of broken families, addiction, severe mental health, or digital exclusion where people are increasingly isolated are the watchers watching.
I am politically engaged, working closely with the Regional Mayors office. We are looking at a range of issues across 2.6 million people. We watch the big picture – the economics and health of the region.
But real transformation happens in our communities. It is the frequent prayer that sees crime drop, marriages restored, families healed. It is prayer for the local school and its stressed staff.
My experience is that few Christians are happy to engage with local or national politicians. But when they do, partnerships form. In Bristol the churches said “no child must go hungry” and “we declare our city as a city of hope”. The council adopted these themes and helped them progress. In many places the church is getting funding to feed the hungry, help the lonely, befriend pensioners and provide help to Mums and toddlers.
I heard a story this week of an old man, unable to hold things, and unable to cope with the forms and inquiries and bills in his house. Many were dropped on the floor, so were pieces of food. A church pastor has become his advocate to help him get the support he needs. I was with a Priest yesterday up till two o clock in the morning with someone who overdosed, he was able to get the young man to hospital. I am pretty sure he saved his life.
Do we see these things watchers? Do we see why Jesus wept?
Here’s a controversial aspect. I am working with people of other faiths. That’s the route our civic authorities take if you want to engage. Over the years I have come to respect and love them. Recent census findings in my city show we are 30% Muslim and 34% Christian. I have two choices – to put up my drawbridge or put it down. To show Christ or to hide him away. In the cost of living crisis when all communities are struggling, the light of the church – bringing mercy, forgiveness and compassion – must be seen and have greater impact.
I HAVE POSTED WATCHERS ON YOUR WALLS
God once gave me a picture of the top of a car park with lots of empty spaces and directed me to park in space no 61. Eventually I realised this was an encouragement to be drawn into Isaiah 61 [verse 1]; “The spirt of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He sent me to bind up the broken hearted.” This is the core of the gospel, we should be parked in it, obsessed with it, praying into it. It runs into Isaiah 62 [verse 6]; “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, they will never be silent day or night. You who call upon the Lord give yourselves no rest.”
So, the watchers are watching, and I suggest there are three areas to focus on:
- Wisdom and understanding of our place – its hurts, its pains, its history, and what should cause us to cry out day and night?
- The Great Commission – the Kingdom is coming into our workplaces and neighbourhoods and homes. God is restoring church from the church gathered to the church sent out. It is a fundamental change – let the people of God flourish in their individual calls, let God’s kingdom come.
- The moves of the Spirit – my heart has been for revival for years. We need to get the watchers balance right – ensuring we protect our place but don’t become obsessed with what the devil can do. Our prime call is to bless our place and see what God is doing. The great revival prayer is “More Lord” – let it stir up within us.
A final plea – watchers serve. Watchers need to be trusted; their intentions need to be pure. They are there to hear, to be humble, to support. If they have not built a relationship of trust with local leaders their cries will fall on deaf ears. That is why humility is vital – to hear other watchers, to let leaders decide on next steps and to keep persisting in our call.
Pray for the Sphere of Business (Trade and Finance)
Repentance on Behalf of Businesses
Choose one or more small businesses, medium to large companies, corporations, finance and trade organisations, to pray for in April. They might be in your neighbourhood, or based in your city, or across your country, or even an international enterprise. You could cover one per day this month or several each day and repeat each week.
For each of them, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what to repent on and pray for as you read through the list below:
- Problems with decision-making and business deals.
- Centralised power – lack of empowerment across management.
- Conflicts of interest with communities and government, and having dual faces (duplicity).
- Financial ambiguities and deception, tax-avoidance, ‘official’ and ‘secret’ ledgers.
- Inappropriate spending of monies for personal use by senior management or executives.
- Entering into deals with secret societies or overseas entities with dubious credentials who invest in money laundering and immoral activities.
- Deficiencies or mistakes in financial reporting.
- Approving the use or supply of poor (sub-standard) products or services.
- Nepotism and favouritism.
- Revolving doors. For example, an ex-politician is hired by a company as a thank-you for promoting the sector’s interests.
- International business deals which have political impacts or infiltration of business deals to purchase lands or destroy the economy of other countries.
- Lack of gatekeeper authority in practice, or in policies, or procedures.
- Culture language as a “feel good” strategy.
Pray always and uphold the CEOs, managers, supervisors, consultants, and all employees and contractors in your prayers.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
(Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)
“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud,
but shows favor to the humble.”
(1 Peter 5:5 NIV)
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
(Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV)
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:31 KJV)
“Without the guidance of good leaders a nation falls. But many good advisers can save it.”
(Proverbs 11:14 NIRV)
Prayer For [Y]Our Country
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.