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02 December 2011

7:14 event unites prayers around the world

Christians united for an hour of prayer in cities across the world on Wednesday (1 December). Dozens of prayer events took place in more than 50 cities, including London, Manchester, New York, Washington DC, Brussels (on the steps of the European Parliament), Frankfurt, Marseille, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town.

At a time of political, economic, environmental and social shaking, the event was called 7:14 after the Bible passage 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

The vision behind the call to prayer was "to see all of God's people released and empowered to rise up and make a difference. To see the whole Church, young and old, come together to pray for our nations and leaders. No stage, no mics, no brands, no speaker. Just the people of God in one place at one time, with the healing of lands on their hearts".

At 7:14pm the gatherings started and each one united with others in simultaneous acts of corporate worship including the Lord's Prayer, kneeling, singing and crying out for government, justice, the economy and spiritual renewal. There was also a minute's silence and each event ended by singing Amazing Grace.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said before the evening: "Prayer is the world in which God can do anything. To move into that realm is the greatest adventure. It is to be open to the infinite and hence to infinite possibilities. Our private, self-made worlds, come to an end; a new world appears within and around us and the impossible becomes an everyday experience.

"Yet the world that prayer reveals is barely noticeable in the ordinary course of events. Hundreds of people gathering outside St Paul's Cathedral on 1 December will give the world a positive vision of what the Church exists to be and do."

Despite heavy rain on the evening, the events in the UK were well attended. The Evangelical Alliance had representatives in London and Manchester. Marijke Hoek, the Alliance's Forum for Change co-ordinator, said: "To pray on the steps of St Paul's next to the Occupy camp in the midst of the City gave the prayer meeting such a significant edge. We prayed for a more just world, for government, family life, Europe. The awareness of our limitations how to pray in the face of the strong currents in our world reminded me of the promise of divine help in our weakness - the Spirit's advocacy (Romans 8:26)."

Roger Sutton, the Alliance's England ambassador, was in Manchester. He said: "In the midst of a major city at the height of Christmas shopping, in a large square surrounded by the power of consumerism dazzling out from the many department stores, restaurants and clubs stood a group of people to pray. We had more than 150 people join us but it still felt a vulnerable and small group in the midst of such power. Our prayers went up for the nation, the economy, our political leaders and those suffering in the world. It was encouraging to know we were joining with many other people across many cities, but it still felt like a small voice against the megaphone of western culture. Most people ignored us, many didn't even know what we were doing.

"Then something extraordinary happened, we simply knelt down to pray, and suddenly people started to notice us, they stopped walking by, they crossed the street to see what was going on, some pointed and laughed but most stood and looked. Something very spiritually significant took place last night; a small group of people already feeling vulnerable, then humbled themselves even more by the act of kneeling, managed to stop even if only for a few seconds the consumer juggernaught. Christ kneels on the streets of our cities in utter humility, to pray to his Father and ask that this world would be transformed. Last night we joined him for a few moments and, like the shepherds and the wise men, we beheld his glory in fragility and vulnerability."