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When God moves in Power2 months ago
What an inspiring message from +Graham Dow in this week’s Blog, as he reflects back on some significant moves of God in the past, and as God’s people have prayed for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our own day. He exhorts us to pray earnestly for God to pour out his Spirit, and to look for others to join us.
Two weeks ago was a significant week for me. I shared by Zoom or YouTube in two occasions which I want to tell you about.
First, there was the service commemorating John Stott’s birth, 100 years on. Contributors took part from all over the world; and they illustrated the wonderful breadth of his biblical teaching. John had the capacity to listen to the concerns of leaders from very different cultures, and then apply the scriptures to those issues: for example: poverty, the environment and ecological issues. To hear the testimony of these leaders, and to hear how the church across the world had been transformed by such rich biblical teaching was both exciting and wonderfully nourishing.
How I long for that quality and breadth in the Bible teaching of our churches today!
John, in my view, was weak on the Holy Spirit, weak on the power of his presence and his gifts; for him the mind was absolutely foremost. But there is no doubt that his teaching transformed the strength of Anglican churches worldwide. And I personally believe that biblical teaching of that depth and breadth is very nourishing to our minds and spirits.
Second, during that week, was the fourth of four events called Revival Conversations. These events were interviews with those who were key leaders at times in recent years when God moved powerfully: first with David and Mary Pytches and the impact of John Wimber in the 1980s, and the fourth with John Arnott and the visits of God to the Toronto Vineyard Church in the 1990s. You can follow them on the website www.revivalconversations.com
I found that hearing John Arnott speak quietly about people again and again being overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the sense of God’s love enfolding them. It led to wonderful transformations in their lives; it was just wonderful; it was God pouring out his presence of love, or the Father’s blessing.
John Arnott believes there is much more to come world-wide, because the Father’s blessing is for all the nations. Pray and expect, was his message. ‘How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him’. Luke 11.13
When God moves in power
Following these two events I picked up Colin Whittaker’s book, ‘Great Revivals - When God Moves in Power’. It goes through Wesley and Whitfield, Wales, the Hebridean Revival in the Isle of Lewis in 1948, and many others. It describes what seemingly brought about God’s out pouring, and how its effects changed lives and churches.
So, all in one week, I was stirred both to search the scriptures more and to cry out to God for the outpouring of his Spirit on where I live - Stockport.
God has given me a vision for my prayers: he showed me a ring of fire all round Stockport, starting from All Saints Marple and flowing anti-clockwise through Romiley, where I live, Bredbury, North Stockport, Edgeley, Cheadle, Bramhall and Hazel Grove Baptist Church. Then with Spirit-filled churches and Spirit-filled leaders round the ring, I saw the fire spread into the middle of Stockport to affect the churches and the local council and to create a more just society.
Prayer for the city
Something important has fed into this vision for prayer for Stockport. Thirty years ago I was a vicar in the centre of Coventry. When I had been there 8 or 9 years, I was led, along with other Christian leaders, to the conclusion that there was darkness over the city. The immediate evidence for this was that converts to Christian Faith did not seem to last as well as they did in other places where we had worked.
There was other evidence as well, particularly of an occult history affecting the city. Anyway, we held well-supported prayer evenings called Let There Be Light. We confessed sin; we rebuked and drove out the darkness; we prayed in the cathedral ruins, and outside the council buildings. There was nothing immediately to show for our prayers, and I left to become Bishop of Willesden.
But one year ago God gave me an extraordinary gift. My wife and I went to Coventry searching for a venue for our long-standing bishops’ cell. The hotel we enquired at said they had no meeting room, but for our meetings we could try the large new premises nearby of the former Assemblies of God Church, now CLM church, Christian Life Ministries. There we met the Pastor, Martin Storey. Over 1000 people come to services there each Sunday and the new building is wonderful. I shared with Martin how we had prayed nearly 30 years ago. He said, ‘Well your prayers were answered. Converts now are not falling away’. And he continued, ‘That helps us to believe that our prayers today will be answered.’ I can’t tell you how great an encouragement that was to me. I came away walking on air. 30 years nearly, and God showed me the answers, out of the blue.
At CLM celebrations for Christians in the city are held in the church every 6 months. They are supported by over 50 churches; they pray for the churches, the city and wider. Over 300 people were at the last one; I was there. The Bishop of Coventry is always there. The Holy Spirit put me in the same breakout prayer group as him.
Last June members of these 50 churches prayer walked the whole city, street by street. Martin Storey has taken overall leadership and has huge support. If you go to the CLM website you see that the church is just steeped in prayer. www.clmchurch.co.uk
For me, it is truly wonderful; and so kind of God to tell me. Thirty years on from our prayers with Let There Be Light! That is why I am praying for Stockport; I am looking for others to join me and praying for God to raise up a Spirit-filled leader who will draw the churches together.
Remember what God has done
One more thing. I have used lockdown to build a personal website. Preparing it has helped me to remember what God has done, and to be expectant for the future. The website has over 80 audio files of Christian teaching. There are sermons, even back to Coventry days; there is teaching on healing, on the Holy Spirit, on deliverance and on prayer for revival. There is biblical exposition such as of chapters in the Book of Revelation, and of Genesis 1-11. There are addresses and sermons on the Church Year, especially Advent, Holy Week and Good Friday where for years I have loved speaking on the passion accounts in the gospels. It’s all in www.Bishopgrahamdow.com.
Wherever you are, pray earnestly for God to pour out his Spirit, and look for others to join you.