History or Mystery


Put simply, which is the only way I can digest history, The English Civil War came about because King Charles 1 took idolatry to it's pinnacle, living and proclaiming that he alone heard, spoke and acted for God. Like many kings of the Old Testament ''he did what was evil in the Lord's sight'' 2 Kings 15-24. Against this oppressive rule the Parliamentarians defended themselves and much blood was shed across the land. In his book on the Lancashire leader John Bradshawe, 'God's Battleaxe', Richard Lee Bradshaw reminds us that in Manchester  ''on the afternoon of July 5th 1642 the first blood of the English Civil War was shed.'' Two years later Bolton, the closest market town to the ancient Bradshaw manor, fell and 1200 Bolton defenders and four ministers were put to the sword. ''Farms and manors in the neighbourhood were devastated.''  

That is history but what of God's mystery?

My research is incomplete but might it be possible that some of those farmlands soaked in blood under the rule of an idolatrous dictator were situated out across the moors above Bolton, the very lands currently in danger of being devastated again, this time by unprecedented fires.

But in His mercy and through His redemptive Love, I wonder, is the Lord revealing something of His mysterious ways?

God loves all that He created. The land is very important to the Lord. It can speak to us of his character and nature if we will look and listen from His perspective. God cares about the land and as we line up our hearts and understanding with His, the land which is precious to Him becomes part of our inheritance and blessing. What we do on the land and how we care for it matters to God.

While he was King, Charles 1 was in a covenant with God to protect,nurture,develop, rule and sustain God's dominion over the land through His people. In his humanity the King violated and broke that covenant and shed the blood of those created in God's image across God's land. The spiritual outworking of his human pride and lust for power, wealth and control was to bring defilement through murder and oppression onto the land. This defilement sank deep into it's roots. (Numbers 35:33-34). 

In the shedding of Christ's blood and his death on the cross, the  resurrection and the releasing of the Holy Spirit's power, God has demonstrated His desire to restore and renew all that has been defiled or died through man's self government and self justification and to bring new,true life. The healing of land is intimately connected with the healing of people in relationship to God and the power of the cross is sufficient to cleanse not only the human heart but also the land on which we walk, if we will walk with Him.

... if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong
— 1 John 1:9
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.
— 2 Chr 7: 14

He gives us the power to walk with Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is frequently depicted in scripture as Fire and Wind.

Might it be that the moorland fires are the most encouraging sign and symbol of God's faithfulness and His presence with us that we could possibly be shown. He has heard the repentant heart prayers of his people and in a merciful and loving response is pouring out His Spirit by Fire, redeeming and cleansing the defiled roots of our land.

It is a deep mystery but God alone can fully redeem our history and give us new life.

For further reading I recommend ''Releasing Heaven on Earth'' Alistair Petrie.

Sara Hailwood

Sara is on staff as an intercessory missionary at Manchester House of Prayer.  Her desire is see the church in Manchester walking in unity and to see every believer experiencing deeper intimacy with Jesus.  Sara helps shape and lead our Life Prayerwatch.  She also serves in the prayer room as a singer and a prayer leader. 


Rejoice… the Lord is at hand!


I come from a church tradition that follows keeps a season of Advent before Christmas.  For me, the changing of seasons is always an opportunity to get back to the heart of things we easily fall into a routine with.  Advent in particular is one of my favourite seasons because it’s such a rich and privileged season of prayer.  That said, it’s also a very easy time of year to do anything but pray!  There’s so much to do - so much good to do!  Family, Charity, Generosity, Outreach, Traditions… With so many pressures on our attention, our time, our money and our energy, it’s easy to loose sight of the heart.  Even our prayers, and those traditions that are intended to enlighten our prayer, can become something we just do.  So it’s important to ask why…

Rejoice in the Lord always… The Lord is at hand.
— Phillipians 4:4-5

Jesus is coming - and I don’t just mean that He was incarnate as a man in the year 0 for some 33 years.  Jesus is alive today, and He’s got a plan to come back.  We find it easy to forget that Jesus spoke clearly about His coming again.  We find this truth throughout the new testament writings – Jesus is coming back immanently.  The Lord is at hand.  Do we even believe that?  Is it important? Does it demand a response from us?  

We often complain about secularism in the world, but we’re less quick to see it in our own lives.  It’s easy to find ourselves believing the immediate demands of the day more than the eternal truths of the gospel.  Don’t we?  I honestly don’t think it’s a big problem for us to feel like we should pray more.  I’ve found that the more we pray the more we feel the need to pray… so I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty.  But I do think it’s worth checking whether the little prayer we do get round to doing is getting more secular by the year or if it still carries the marks of an authentic encounter and relationship with God! 

Is it possible to prayer to be secular?  Surely we wouldn’t pray if we lost sight of the God that we’re praying to?  Really?!  Here are some confessions of my part.  Sometimes my prayer can be really functional – I’m not actually concerned about God except that I get to the end of the day.  My prayer can be focused on my own plans and the ways I think my plans should work out.  My prayer can be focused on justifying myself…  Sometimes even my corporate prayer can be more to persuade those people I’m praying with than to actually ask anything from the Lord!  Prayer meetings can be more about exhortation than intercession.  My prayers can be about developing my own virtues or discipline.  At times I’m more satisfied with my poverty than I am desperate for God that I never quite move on from confessing my need for Him to actually asking from Him the things on His heart.  Sure, at least I’m still praying and at least I’m actually talking to God.  But when my prayer gets like this it gets exhausting!  It’s a relationship I’m hardly keen to invest my time in & it’s an encounter that isn’t joyous.  But God wants our prayer to be enjoyable.

There’s a prayer that I’ve really started to enjoy.  “Maranatha”, “Come Lord Jesus”.  Asking for Jesus to come back is so far removed from our own plans, our own understanding, our own strength, that it does something to our hearts to take any time at all to ask it of the Lord.  It begins to offer perspective, not just rationally, but in wonder.  That’s the best preparation of our heart to encounter the familiar again and again without loosing heart.  Wonder before the mystery of the person of Jesus Christ.  Not just a story, or not even just history… a Man who today stands in heaven interceding and singing over us, and whose heart burns with passion for the day of His return.  As we catch a sight of Him again we guard our hearts and minds from the pernicious tendency to become secular, worldly or just bogged down with the immediate.  
At home, we’re looking at which traditions to pass on to our children.  How do we leave space in our traditions, whether at home or at church, for a fresh revelation of God Himself?  How do we make the most of this season to break out of our worldliness and go after the heart again?  God wants you to enjoy Him.  He’s after your heart, and He’s coming for your heart.  Rejoice - He’s at hand.

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Pieter is on staff as an intercessory missionary at Manchester House of Prayer. With a heart to see families grow in prayer together, he is developing our Family Prayerwatch. He also serves in the prayer room as a worship leader, singer and prayer leader. 


Such Is His Gracious Will...


Developing our Family Prayer has been a challenge and an adventure. In many ways its enriching my own worship and prayer. Week by week, as we take God at His word and pray it back to Him, I’m challenged not to rest on my own understanding. I love being surprised by the simple but deeply meaningful things that come from the mouths of our children when they pray His word!

Father, I thank you that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and have revealed them to little children; for such is Your gracious will.
— Matthew 11:25-26

At the very foundation of our prayer is God’s revelation of Himself and the plans of His heart. As valuable as our study of God certainly is, it’s our devotion that God looks for. Thomas of Aquinas famously said that all his theology was as straw compared to what God had shown him. His heart was gripped by revelation, far beyond his academic passion for God.

It’s our good Father’s gracious will to reveal Himself to our children. Who really knows the Father except the Son? Who really loves Him and asks of Him - freely and boldly - but His Son? Which child does not understand the lesson: if your father on earth knows how to give you good things when you ask, how much more will your Father in heaven!

When it comes to prayer, there is a hidden treasure in our children that we could easily overlook. It is more natural for them to know a Father than to know theology, so we should give them at least as many opportunities to encounter Him as to learn about Him. Nothing draws our hearts to prayer more than the revelation of God.

As we pray His word back to Him, using apostolic prayers, we keep ourselves rooted in who He says He is and what He says He’ll do. At our Family Prayerwatch, our children use apostolic prayers in their own words because it’s not about understanding God better, it’s about trusting Him more. 

As you spend time in His word today, why not ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way, as though through the eyes of a child?  

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Pieter is on staff as an intercessory missionary at Manchester House of Prayer. With a heart to see families grow in prayer together, he is developing our Family Prayerwatch. He also serves in the prayer room as a worship leader, singer and prayer leader. 


Jesus; Hope for the hurting heart

On Monday night, something happened that shook our nation. With a hurting heart and tear- filled eyes I watched the news of a tragic attack on some of our most vulnerable; our children, our youth. As scenes that seem all too familiar flashed across the screen, this time in a city so close to my heart, I was heart broken. I am heartbroken.

And yet, amidst the moving speeches of defiance in the face of evil, I felt the gentle pull towards a different response. I am beginning to understand that weakness does not mean defeat. It does not mean we have lost. It does not mean that the terrorists have won, for our battle has never been against men. Instead, it is in these moments of vulnerability that the tenacious love of One whose strength is perfected in our weakness comes rushing in, crashing through all fear that stands in it’s path.

Our communities are remarkable in their unity. Our emergency services are incredible in their bravery. Our businesses are astounding in their generosity. The kindness of strangers is stunning in the moment of crisis. And yet, in their beauty, it has never been in these things that our hope is found. Our faithful God is not looking for people who do not need Him, but for people who even in the very darkest hours, lift their eyes and their voices to heaven.

We are weak, we are hurting, and we need a Saviour. I do not want to stand tall in defiance. I want to fall down at the feet of the only One who has the answers and ask Him to help us, to hold us, and to heal our land.

For there is a Father who knows what it feels like to have His Son killed.
There is a Man who knows what it is to grieve the loss of His friends.
There is a God who knows what it is to cry.
There is a God who has known pain and suffering; a God who knows what it is for His body to be wounded.
There is a God who knows the pain of separation.
And though words may fail us, there is a God who will not be silent in the face of injustice.

As we search for hope, may we find it in Him. The One who in every way understands our pain, is fully in control. He cannot be shaken. He cannot be moved. Our victory is not in life continuing as normal. Our victory is in lifting our eyes to the One who is victorious.

This week at MHOP, we sang. We lifted high the beautiful, powerful Name of Jesus over a hurting city. Not because we are great, but because He is. Not as an act of defiance against terrorism, but as an act of worship to the One who is still on the throne. He is worthy, He is good, and calling on Him; our sure and steadfast Hope - is the wisest, safest thing we can do in times of crisis. When the wisdom of man fails, we look to Him whose ways are so much higher.

My prayers tonight are with those who are recovering from injuries in hospital. They’re with the families whose hearts are breaking, trying to come to terms with life without their loved one. They’re with the incredible emergency services. They’re with frightened children. They’re with the muslim community in our nation. They’re with the arena staff. They’re with every member of the government navigating these incredibly complex issues for our nation. They’re with Ariana Grande and her team. They’re with the youth of this nation, for whom God has inconceivable things in store.

We lift our voices to a God who sees, hears and responds - believing that He will move mightily in our midst. In the midst of tragedy, we humble ourselves, we call upon the God of all comfort and we listen, believing that the One who has incredible plans for this city and nation takes delight in revealing the secrets of His heart to His friends.

There is Hope, as an anchor of our souls. His Name is Jesus.

He comforts those who mourn and He is near to the broken hearted. He heals and He binds up wounds. One day He will come again, just as He has promised. On that day there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more suffering, no more death. Every wrong thing will be made right. Until that day, He promises to meet us, right in the midst of it all.

How we need You, King Jesus.

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Alicia is on staff as an intercessory missionary at Manchester House of Prayer.  She has a passion to see young adults deeply connected to the heart of God and longs to see all people respond to the worth of Christ.  Alicia is involved in shaping Intro as well as being part of the City Prayer team.  She also serves in the prayer room as a worship leader, singer and prayer leader. 


What are we waiting for?

Of course in the traditional calendar this advent season is a time of waiting for the arrival of our saviour Jesus Christ, revealing Himself in the flesh, heralding the breaking in of God's Kingdom here on the earth. He broke in from Eternity, outside of time, and entered our time frame, in a moment in time. That is now history. But for now, if we align and agree with God's word, in spirit and in truth , we no longer have to wait. He has already broken into our own life and been born within our spirit.

That seed of the spirit however does not lie dormant within us like a cyst or a ganglion on the wrist. It is living and active more like a baby growing in the womb. If our body is a temple this new life is like a cleansing agent working in every nook and cranny to transform and renew us. The active ingredients of this cleansing agent are faith, hope and love....and the most powerful of these is love.

So are we still waiting for Love to break into our lives?

I may say I know the love of God and that would be true but have I known it enough to allow it to overcome my culture? Has it overcome my british reticence, my british passive aggression, my british reliance on ''them'' having the right answers? I would confess that these qualities align me with political correctness not my God given identity.

If God had kept himself to himself we would be stuck in Advent for ever.....''always winter and never Christmas'' like in Narnia.

Some might say as we look at our national landscape currently that we are in something of a winter season. High suicide rates in young men driven by despair, high abortion rates driven by lonely frightened young women, increasing assisted suicides in the terrified and pain ridden elderly, confusion and uncertainty and even hatred around foreign involvements and immigration, escalating gender confusion and entrapment. Our cultural landscape is not filled today with abundant life.

Yet in this apparent culture of ''death'' there are still healthy roots. 

I have been part of allowing a dying of truth, silence while people were being robbed of their value, worth and true identity and the death of love and honour as it has become replaced by audit, number crunching and government by finance.

Yet in our roots there is a different culture.  In our roots is God's life. In that spiritual seed planted in your temple is a voice crying out for righteousness to arise. It's God's voice calling to you. 

I believe Jesus is saying to us individually and culturally...Please do not remain silent, Please do not allow yourself and others to be robbed of life, please do not allow others to decide your destiny, your future and even your identity. Please let me break in to your culture of death and bring life.

He will overcome death through us not by our being aggressive or even assertive but by being confidently assured of His presence with each one of us to be the head and not the tail, to lean into the power of His love and to be directed forward by the shepherd whether He asks us to speak or be silent and still.

You do not need to wait till Christmas. He is with you right now. 

Join us on 8th Jan 2017 at Life Prayerwatch and declare life over this city and our nation.

Sara is on staff as an intercessory missionary at Manchester House of Prayer.  Her desire is see the church in Manchester walking in unity and to see every believer experiencing deeper intimacy with Jesus.  Sara is developing our community meals and our Life Prayerwatch.  She also serves in the prayer room as a singer and a prayer leader.