As part of the ongoing prayer journey for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we gathered online for two Special Prayer Watches to pray about and worship over many aspects of ‘The Friendly Games.’
During the lead up to The Games, each of the different venues had been prayed for – either around the edge of the stadia or around the different parks and centres; Services had been held focussing on different aspects of prayer for The Commonwealth – praying for healing of, blessing over and welcoming all the athletes, families and visitors from every Commonwealth nation and territory to the West Midlands region. We had the privilege of praying for and blessing every Commonwealth nation and territory as the Queen’s Baton visited each one and created a prayer diary, encouraging people around the globe to pray as The Baton travelled.
All of these events and initiatives provided our back-drop as we gathered for the Commonwealth Prayer Watch Specials. Our prayer focus initially was continuing to pray for safety for each of the venues – what would take place in each one and continuing to pray blessing on each of the athletes, the officials, the spectators, the volunteers and the games organising group. We were delighted to welcome Rob Parker from Wings house of prayer and Paul Critchley from Beacon house of prayer to lead us in worship. The sense of exalting the Lord high over the nations was very strong and realising that our worship changes the spiritual atmosphere over the areas that we brought before The Lord.
As we moved through the prayer watch, we heard stories of ancient bones being repatriated to Commonwealth nations and the Aboriginal flag flying over Sydney Harbour Bridge, recognising the indigenous people of Australia – answers to prayers in the lead up to The Games.
PRAYER, WORSHIP & MISSION
Security was a very clear prayer focus, linking that in with the opening ceremony. We lifted up the 336 hours of unceasing prayer and worship held at The Elim Life Church Hub in Pheasey – again recognising the importance of worship as a weapon. Many missional teams would be taking to the streets of the Cities and Towns of the region during The Games. YWAM would be bringing a team of young people, ‘The Firestarters’ along with the teams from Healing on the Streets, Birmingham City Mission, Sports Chaplaincy, Well-being Chaplains OM and Glo-Europe, to name but a few – we prayed that the aroma of Christ would flood the region along with peace on the all of the streets. And again, everything was embraced within beautiful, sensitive and strong worship.
PRAYER ON THE STREETS
Welcoming guests on to the watches is a great privilege and we were grateful to have Linda Isgrove from Healing on the Streets, Rachael Howson and Lee Gater from YWAM to share some thoughts and prayer pointers. Linda shared how she felt that the harvest is ready, and that God is calling the harvesters to reap. She shared how she felt that a shift had taken place and having the sense that this is the time – praying for safety, worship and witness as each of the different teams took to the streets.
The beauty of hosting two watches, two weeks apart, was that we could see many stories unfolding as God touched peoples’ lives. By the time we met on the second watch, the opening ceremony had happened, 185 hours of unbroken worship and prayer had taken place and many conversations had transpired on the streets… there was a buzz and excitement as we prayed on. We took note of the contents of the opening ceremony – thanked God for the sense of joy in the stadium and the peacefulness of the all the practicalities within the ceremony, but at the same time, we were watching what God might be saying through this time: being aware of false light, and aware of not bowing down and worshipping the bull and praying into the closing ceremony and all that it might portray.
Rachael (Howson) and Lee (Gater) shared some more stories from being out on the streets with missional teams – including some great conversations being held, and people being very open and happy to talk. Both Rachael and Lee commented on a very real awareness of having an army of pray-ers interceding for what the teams were doing and how easy it had been because of peoples’ prayers. There was a very clear indication that people were journeying towards making commitments. We prayed for confusion to be lifted off the people, as there was a plethora of messages available from different faith groups and for clear communication of The Gospel and the love of Jesus.
As we continued in worship, we became aware that strongholds were coming down and that there was a genuine sense of God’s transforming power flowing into a City greatly in need of transformation. We prayed for the work of the ‘It’s a Penalty’ coalition and for God to expose the works of darkness in human trafficking. We prayed for the team of Chaplains who had been trained up through the police scheme and for God to use them during the games and beyond. We prayed for revival in the police force! We heard stories of very encouraging relationships and conversations between the teams in the stadiums and the police – so much so that one police constable commented that the team must come back and do more, such was the shift in atmosphere with the teams around.
We prayed for transformation of the region, the heart of the nation being ‘rescued’, that goodness and mercy would be overflowing and that our younger generation would be protected from negative influences. We thanked God for the stories received from Coventry, Wolverhampton, Leamington Spa, Warwick and across Birmingham, continuing to pray for God’s blessing, God’s presence and His power to be at work, changing hearts and lives.
We keep praying – be persistent in prayer, as the apostle Paul instructs us in Philippian 4, Ephesians 6 and 1 Thessalonians 5 as we move towards the closing ceremony and for a successful and strategic handover from the Church in Birmingham to the Church in The State of Victoria, Australia for the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
Laurence Sharman is the Executive Director of the World Prayer Centre Birmingham.