Throughout July I undertook a series of prayer walks in England with a cross accompanied by Paul, a friend of mine from the Beacon House of Prayer in Stoke on Trent. Like many prayerful people we have done a number of prayer walks over the years from our house of prayer; they have always been encouraging and strategic. Yet until a couple of years ago, I had never prayer walked with a cross before. Then in 2019 I had a prayer vision of carrying a cross in Parliament Square Westminster, and praying there during the angry Brexit protests. So I did a ten day walk from Stoke on Trent to London Westminster with a large cross, prayed with christians in Parliament Square, and felt it had prayerful influence in resolving the Brexit impasse .

We left the cross resting against the corner of our prayer room after that walk, and a few days later, I felt God tell me to walk in the cities of England. Not knowing what that meant, I left it as a good but crazy idea. Through the pandemic no-one could travel easily and openly around England. Then three months ago, I felt a stirring in my spirit that now is the time to walk in the cities of England with the cross. When I asked the Lord about what to do on the prayer walks, I felt I should mark the cities with the sign of the cross as a sign of receiving fresh grace from God.

So at the start of June, after sharing with family and friends, we felt a green light to organise and publicise these walks. There are fifty one cities in England, including two in London. In reality it was going to be a prayer drive/walk, for it would have taken many months to walk from place to place. Through friendship help and groups like Houses of Prayer, World Prayer Centre, Gather Network and Neighbourhood Prayer Network, we managed to find the right link in each city of a person or people who would like to receive the cross and walk with us in their city centre. We took in three cities a day over seventeen days, in four stages, since we had some family commitments in the middle of July. We walked early morning, lunchtime and late afternoon, staying two hours in each place and then driving to the next.

We started in Chester, through Manchester and going up northwest to Carlisle , then from Newcastle down to York. Then the West Yorkshire cities, down through the midlands around East Anglia and ending up in Cambridge. Then St Albans and around the south east coastal cities as far as Salisbury. Then the last leg took in the south west as far as Truro, around via Bristol and Oxford to London then up the west midlands spine to Birmingham and around to Stoke on Trent to finish.

The prayer themes of the walks were grace, blessing and glory. We prayed for God's grace for communities after the trauma of this last year, for his blessing on every sector of city life and its leadership coming out of the pandemic, and for God's glory to be seen, welcoming the breath and life of the Spirit in his church and through his people as he leads us into this new season.

Paul and I had an amazing time doing these walks. We were humble that in every place, there were people who wanted to join or bless the cross walk. For many people it was a rediscovery of prayer walking in their city after the pandemic, of noticing their city centre through God's eyes again, of praying by their city gates for the king of glory to come in. Walking with the cross was significant, as it was a walk of Christian witness as well as a prayer walk. There were countless curious looks, many comments, and significant conversations of faith with people in need or open to God. Although it wasn't a spiritual mapping prayer walk, it was also a powerful spiritual warfare declaration that God is claiming these cities for his kingdom purposes this side of the pandemic. We didn't wrestle with dark powers, but did feel the weight of the cross going deep in the land, overturning curses and releasing blessing through his shed blood. We lifted high the cross in places where ancient crosses used to be. We prayed in strategic city centre places, by cathedrals, market squares, guildhalls, town halls, realising the historic significance of each city, and honouring its Christian heritage. We took the cross north, south, east and west, marking the streets and blessing all we passed by, and recognising that God is again on the move and calling us to follow him in a fresh walk of faith.

Of course, as these things are, in the end it was a walk of obedience. Paul and myself felt called to do this, and we leave the results in the hands of the Lord. It was a privilege to pray in all the great cities of our land, old and new, and bring the sign of the cross and a prayer walk of blessing throughout England in this emerging season. The cross is back in the Beacon house of prayer, waiting to see if that is the end of the walking or if there is more to come. A big thanks to all who supported and prayed for us or with us in this special prayer assignment. Glory to God!

 

William Porter - Team Leader at Beacon House of Prayer, Stoke on Trent, and coordinator of UK Houses of Prayer Network.