God is doing something remarkable in our cities. Pastor Tani Omideyi tells how he planted a church in Anfield, a neglected part of Liverpool and the place drew them in, at first, it was a place to meet, then it became a neighbourhood they loved deeply. They felt its pain and need for Jesus. He says “When we pray for a place we pray for its present and impact its future.” Pastor Tani’ s love for his community led him to a deep love for all his city. It goes further, he tells the story of prayer walking the 37 miles of the Manchester Ship canal with leaders from Manchester to heal the rifts between the two cities.
In Bath, churches collaborate through the Genesis Trust serving the city and bringing the gospel through a range of organisations like Street Pastors, Healing on the Streets, CAP and Creating Pathways focused on the homeless and people with mental health issues. In Lincoln, the churches have built credibility with the council and are combining practical help – with mental health, and homelessness with outreach. Across the Liverpool region, Together for the Harvest is equipping believers for ministry, praying, seeing people saved on the streets and building their confidence that God wants to change their city.
Globally these patterns are being followed and it flows from one core theme – God wants to unite His church. Jesus spoke clearly on oneness and unity at the last supper. (John 17). He wants us to be one – “that the world might know”. It is modeled in the trinity, three in one, different but the same. We are the means by which God’ s glory is seen in our workplace, neighbourhood and town/city. We must pursue unity if we are to reveal Jesus – our division discredits God, our deep togetherness shows the remarkable difference kingdom living can bring. Paul continually challenged the churches divisions, wasted arguments, and pride. He constantly prayed for unity. He knew the enemies strategy – a divided church loses its credibility, and focus.
So how can we pray for our city or town, or a city that God lays on our heart?
- Repent for disunity, party spirit, lack of generosity, and suspicion.
- Pray for a depth of unity – oneness – that means we release blessing across the churches. We pray for the whole kingdom to flourish across our city.
- We act as watchers, read the papers, talk to people in key areas like education, the Police, community development, health about their concerns. Sense the pain of the city.
- Prayer walk – get out, see things, pray for families and children near you, the schools, the Police, and praise God and proclaim his Lordship.
- Fight spiritual battles – understand the particular spiritual issues at a local level – it might be violence, lawlessness, deception, confusion, anger, a lack of self-worth, etc. Ask God to direct your prayers (it would be good to pray with others). Pray for an opposite spirit – bless your place with peace, unity, compassion, revelation and pray for God’ s Kingdom to come. Keep praying, be persistent – “May there be security within your walls and security within your citadels” Ps. 122