Posts Tagged Prayer

Mysteries of the Tower of London

25 April 2012

This segment of the Tower of London walk takes visitors through Traitors’ Gate, the Medieval Palace and the Bloody Tower.

Traitors’ Gate

In pre-Tudor days, the Tower of London was used primarily as a royal palace and not yet as a full-time prison. At the time, the river came right up to the Tower wall where today there is a wharf. The Thames River was the city’s lifeblood and provided a busy thoroughfare for commerce and trade. The river entrance to the palace was called “Traders Gate” and acted as a sort of tradesman’s entrance where vendors could pull up in barges, sell their wares, then push off again and ferry to their next stop.

When the Tower’s purpose took a more sinister turn, the river entrance offered a way to sneak the monarch’s more controversial prisoners into the Tower away from public eye. Princess Elizabeth made a low-key entrance through this “Traitors’ Gate” at the age of twenty-one when her Catholic half-sister Queen Mary Tudor imprisoned her on suspicious of inciting a Protestant rebellion. Elizabeth vehemently protested her innocence and, although Queen Mary’s throne was not considered secure as long as Elizabeth was alive, Queen Mary did not order her execution. After Mary’s death in 1558, Elizabeth acceded to the throne as Queen Elizabeth I and reigned for nearly 45 years.

The Medieval Palace

Just beside Traitors’ Gate lies the entrance to the Medieval Palace, where modern visitors can get a vivid sense of life at the Tower during the 13th century. The Medieval Palace is the collective name used for the three towers of St. Thomas, Wakefield and Lanthorn, where King Henri III and his successors Edward I and II lived at various periods during the Middle Ages.

In medieval times, kings and their courts traveled frequently, sometimes at a moment’s notice. All furnishings and decorations required portability. Rooms themselves had to be adaptable, since each chamber held multiple functions throughout the day, serving in turn as a bedchamber, dining hall and a place of entertainment.

Edward I’s bedchamber has been painstakingly restored to its medieval splendor with richly colored furnishings, wall hangings and a magnificent four-poster bed all based on descriptions of the palace found in surviving documents and in archeological research. Costumed interpreters bring the Medieval Palace to life through various speeches and sketches.

The Wakefield Tower includes a throne room complete with a throne replicated from the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey as well as a small oratory (or prayer room), where Henry VI is thought to have been murdered while at prayer.

Did You Know? The Crown Jewels were displayed in the Medieval Palace from 1870 to 1967.

Bloody Tower

The Bloody Tower, formerly known by the more prosaic name of Garden Tower, enshrines in its walls the secrets of its many prisoners. Chief among its secrets is what happened to two young princes once imprisoned there.

At King Edward IV’s death in 1483, his 12-year-old son acceded to the throne as Edward V. But things went downhill for him after that. On his way to London, Edward was met by his uncle Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, who escorted him to the Tower of London where he was to be kept until his coronation. Edward was joined by his brother Richard, age 9, a few days later. Before Edward has a chance to be officially crowned, his uncle declared his brother Edward IV’s marriage to the young princes’ mother unlawful, making the boys illegitimate offspring and therefore ineligible for the throne. The Duke of Gloucester then declared himself king and reigned as Richard III.

The princes at the Tower were seen less and less frequently until they seemed to disappear altogether, never to be seen again. Foul play on the uncle’s part was suspected, as William Shakespeare depicts in his play Henry III, but nothing was ever proven. Fueling rumors that the boys were murdered was the discovery of two small skeletons, presumably of two boys around the princes’ ages, in the White Tower 200 years later. What really happened to the young princes remains one of the Tower’s darkest mysteries.

The Bloody Tower is also known as the place where the great poet and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned for 13 years, accused of treason by King James. Despite his long imprisonment, Raleigh lived in considerable ease and comfort and managed to write his History of the World before his beheading in 1618.

An Explanation for Unanswered Prayer?

21 April 2012

In Matt. 13:3-23, Jesus gives the parable of the sower who throws his seed out onto various types of soil. Most of the seeds don’t stick for various reasons; some do and bear fruit. Jesus states to his (confused) disciples that He’s speaking of the Kingdom of Heaven and the seed of the gospel on men’s heart.

But I’ve often felt there’s a similarity between the sower in this story and the intercessor who sows the seeds of prayer. When you’re praying for people going through a rough time — illness, loss of job, etc. — it seems that the more receptive they are to divine intervention in their lives, the more open their hearts are to the moving of the Holy Spirit, and the more apt they are to receive a miracle or a breakthrough in their lives.

And even if a breakthrough or miracle doesn’t arrive, those people seem to be given extra grace to survive or handle their situation with strength and fortitude.

The least receptive and most self-sufficient “sufferers” — even among Christians – seem to continue simmering in their problems with no apparent breakthrough unless there’s a turning point within their heart. Perhaps this sounds judgmental. I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just something I’ve observed in my own prayer times and as a result of my own frustration with unanswered prayers, both directed at situations in my own life and prayer for others.

So, ask yourself, Am I being receptive and open-minded when it comes to the prayers of others for me and my life or have I hardened my heart a bit — because I think I can get out of this or handle this situation on my own? Or maybe because I have given up or feel like I deserve punishment and don’t deserve to be blessed?

With prayer, persistence is key (remember the parable of the widow who kept knocking?) but at the same time we must acknowledge that the human will plays a key part. God will not force anyone to salvation, to faith or even to blessing. We must open our heart’s door to Him.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. — Revelation 3:20

Prayer Points — Tower of London

20 April 2012

These prayer points and points to ponder will be inserted at corresponding points of the Tower of London section of the Crime & Punishment chapter.

Point to Ponder – Tower of London

Dungeons, torture devices, beheadings and executions all seem like a thing of the past. The natural tendency when walking around the Tower grounds is to think, “Whew, glad I wasn’t around when all of that was going on!” But did you know that torture of a different type takes place still today? Consider how often we place others in the prison of unforgiveness or use the torture of silent treatment or commit murder in our hearts.

In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says that if we are angry with our brother or speak harsh words to someone, we are just as deserving of judgment as someone who kills.

Pray that God will give us the strength to forgive as we have been forgiven and to love others with the same unselfish love that God has lavished on us (John 15:12).

Point to Ponder – Our Fortress and Strong Tower

King David often compared God to a fortress, a strong tower and a refuge in times of trouble. The Tower of London may have provided shelter for kings and been a stronghold against their enemies but it had flaws and weaknesses. On the other hand, we have a Fortress that never fails.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

Point to Ponder – Crown Jewels

Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne! As you gaze at these emblems and symbols of the Kings and Queens of England, consider the glorious upcoming ceremony of the Coronation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Consider the words of Revelation 19:12, “… and on His head were many crowns.”

Prayer Points – Tower of London

Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Many of the power struggles in history, and the Tower of London’s history in particular, were caused by the same vices that mar the human heart today.

  • Pray against the Tower’s pervasive legacy of hatred, greed, envy, pride, selfishness, caprice, murder, adultery and lies.
  • Pray against the weapons of torture and imprisonment we use on one another through the silent treatment, bitterness, harsh words, gossip and resentment.
  • Pray that power struggles between Christians would dissolve and that we would learn to love others as Christ has loved us.
  • Pray against the murder we commit in our hearts through the thoughts we think and the words we speak.

Point to Ponder – Wall Walks

There are about 75 instances each of the words “fortress” and “strong tower” in the Bible, most of which are metaphors for God. Praise the Lord for his faithful protection in our times of crisis and need! Quote these verses as you walk along the walls of the Tower.

“And he said, the Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me from violence.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3,

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” Psalm 31:3

“Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 71:3

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” Psalm 91:2

“My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.” Psalm 144:2

“For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” Psalm 61:3

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

The Cornerstone of Your Day

10 April 2012

In my opinion, failing to set aside time each day to read the Bible and pray is like glancing at a map of a city just once and thinking you can find your way around. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you get lost. Often you waste a lot of time worrying about whether or not you are on the right path, when if you had just studied the map a little longer, you would know it by heart.

Life is not a walk in the park; it’s a spiritual battle. Don’t be caught without your armor.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10-11

Life’s Dramatic Pauses

25 March 2012

Sometimes the greatest chapters in life are preceded by dramatic pauses. Times when God is silent. Times when the world around us seems meaningless, empty, void. Times when we find ourselves waiting and waiting and waiting. Waiting for what? We don’t really know, but we can’t deny the feeling of being in a holding pattern.

“Waiting. Waiting for a train to go, waiting around for a yes or a no.” These lines, from one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books Oh, the Places You’ll Go allude to those precarious, maddening times in life when we have no control.

Sometimes waiting leads to good things. Waiting through engagement for marriage; waiting through nine months of pregnancy for a precious bundle of joy; waiting for our birthday to come — at least before age 25! — and for Christmas Day; waiting, only to find out we got the promotion at work.

But there are also waiting periods filled with pain and fear. Waiting only to find out we lost out on the adoption. Waiting for a diagnosis in the doctor’s office, or holding a loved one’s hand as they lie in a hospital bed, life slowly ebbing away.

God knows that we cannot handle lives of constant action and that we often need waiting times to slow us and help us refocus.

The greatest symphonies incorporate breaks and pauses. Sometimes the pauses are necessary for musicians to catch their breath; sometimes the pauses are dramatic and cause the audience members’ hearts to pound as they anticipate the next movement. Where would storytellers and comedians be without the necessary pause before a well-delivered punch line?

Do you feel like someone hit the pause button on your life? Do you feel at times like you’re the punch line in some great cosmic joke? Yet without pauses, when would we have time to reflect and anticipate, to remember the past, to consider the future or to be thankful for the present?

If we will let Him, God often grows close to us in those quiet times of waiting. He waits to reveal Himself in the quiet, still aloneness that follows disappointment, loss, fear and suffering. Learn to appreciate the dramatic pauses in your life: they are special gifts, though so often wrapped in trials.

 

God knows that we cannot handle lives of constant action and that we often need waiting times to slow us and help us refocus.

A Visit to the London Mosque

24 March 2012

London Mosque from Regent's Park

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the London Central Mosque with a group of students from a Christian university in the U.S. who were studying the topic of Middle East relations. As we arrived at the mosque, the air was filled with a mixture of nervousness and anticipation: this was a new experience for most of us. What would it be like?

Our Guide Omar

We waited a few minutes at a guard station for Omar, our escort, to arrive. The women we saw were all much more heavily veiled than we were, even though the women in our group had taken care to dress modestly and to cover their heads with scarves, as had been recommended to us when the tour was set up.

We seemed to stir up a bit of curiosity among the mosque-goers. Omar, who is the chief PR person for the mosque, was an excellent and genial host. He had a heavy beard, was very young (probably mid-20s), of Afghan background and therefore darker skinned, with a white skull cap. He was in Western dress – a button-down shirt and trousers.

A Lesson in Mosque Etiquette

Before we walked into the prayer hall, we were required to remove our shoes and put them on shelves – a shoe rack of sorts. I wish I’d had time to read the sign that outlined mosque etiquette but we were moving too quickly. At a glance, I saw that one of the first rules was that anyone coming for prayer should refrain from eating onion or garlic or anything that would cause bad breath and distract other people. That might be a good rule for our churches as well! They were also admonished to wear clean socks. Women should refrain from wearing perfume because it might excite desire among the men.

After removing our shoes, we all sat down on the carpeted floor in the middle of the prayer hall to listen to Omar. It was a stunningly beautiful room, more beautiful and full of light than any cathedral I’ve ever seen. But, then again, I kind of overdosed on cathedrals as a child growing up in France so perhaps what I admired was the novel aspect of the architecture.

Point to Ponder: Pray Continually

Muslims pray five obligatory prayers per day, and are encouraged to do so in congregation with other Muslims. This encourages a discipline and builds a sense of fraternity and community among those who pray, and an opportunity for them to exchange thoughts and help each other with problems. Can you imagine the wonderful things that could happen if Christians prayed fervently five times a day, every day? Consider putting this theory into practice and setting an alarm on your phone or other device to go off at five preset times during the day as a reminder to drop everything and focus on what’s most important: God and prayer.

Barefoot Inside the Prayer Hall

It helped that the hall was decorated in my favorite color: blue. The room was domed and the ceiling painted in different shades of blue. Just below the domed ceiling were beautiful Arab inscriptions, also in blue. There were bookshelves along part of the wall. No icons, no pictures, no statues.

It was pretty quiet, this not being a Friday or the mosque’s most popular prayer time, with people (only males) praying or sitting in small groups. Some were lying on the floor (one guy was snoring until his mobile phone – another mosque no-no – woke him up).

Omar was a very good teacher, using a question and answer method. One of the first things Omar clarified was that removing shoes is in no way an act of worship. It’s just common sense: it’s to keep the carpet clean. He spoke for nearly an hour about the five pillars and I found his method of explanation very clear and easy to understand. I was struck by how sincere and passionate he was about devotion to God, about prayer, about giving to others, about fasting and about his own pilgrimage to Mecca.

A Poignant Moment

The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful as he spoke and there was a nice breeze floating in from the open windows. It rather reminded me of nursery nap time. A scene that really marked me was the sight of a little blond-headed boy, probably about two years old, kneeling to pray beside his dad.

A visit to a mosque, while perhaps controversial for some Christians, can be an excellent way of gaining insight into the Islamic faith and of praying for Muslims “on location.”

For a suggested half-day’s itinerary of the Regent’s Park area of London, see Walk 5: Parks & Recreation.

Interview with Mark Williamson prayerforlondon.com

22 March 2012
I’d always been interested in London, and learning about its history, and praying for God to bring revival to the city, since that would lead to a massive change across the whole of the UK, and maybe beyond. — Mark Williamson, Prayer for London

Prayerforlondon.com is a website that exists solely to help generate prayer for the city of London, England. On the site, you’ll find prayer points for the major spheres that affect British life, you can sign up to receive real-time prayer needs for London via Twitter or book guided prayerwalking tours of the city. The last item particularly caught my attention.

Mark leading tour in London

From a continent away, Mark Williamson answers my questions concerning the tours and Prayer for London.

Nathalie Jeter: What is the focus of these guided prayerwalks?

Mark Williamson: The walks have three aims:

1. Tourism – we wanted it to be a genuinely fun and informative walking tour around the sites of central London.

2. Intercession – we wanted to do some serious and strategic praying outside different places of influence.

3. Evangelism – we wanted others to see what we were doing, ask questions, even come and join us, and ultimately help introduce some people to a relationship with God. (We had one guy called Ivan meet us outside Buckingham Palace in 2009, and he gave his life to Jesus!)

NJ: How did this idea of guided prayerwalks of London come about?

MW: Some friends of mine coordinate a huge Christian festival in London in the week before Pentecost. The first of these was in 2008, and I remember thinking “what event can I bring to the festival?” Previously, I’d always been interested in London, and learning about its history, and praying for God to bring revival to the city, since that would lead to a massive change across the whole of the UK, and maybe beyond. So I got together with a friend (Vicki Sokolowski), we got introduced to two other people (Richard Smart and Sarah Bingham) [and we began to run these walks].

NJ: How long have you (and the other team members) been leading these walks?

MW: [We] started at Pentecost 2008, then did more at Pentecost 2009 and 2010. In 2011 other groups and churches then started hearing about it, and asking whether tours could run at other times, not just during Pentecost Festival. So we started to run a few more. And alongside that we’ve run various prayer meetings around central London, and started to meet other intercessors and networks with a heart for praying for London. So in January we said, let’s set up a website to advertise the walks, try and list all the many different prayer meetings actually happening for the capital. And that then led to us starting a blog, and trying to put a list of resources together. And who knows where God will lead us…?

NJ: What is the main thing you want people to know about this ministry?

MW: I’m actually not sure! We don’t know what it will end up becoming. But I guess we want people to know the website is there as a resource, that they can come to events or sign up to the Twitter account to get prayer points/ requests, and hopefully that there will be more prayer for London happening as a result of the site…

If you are passionate about prayer for the nations and want to find out more, check out Prayer for London.

 

Oxford Prayer Room

17 March 2012

This video just fills me with joy. Can’t wait to be a part of this wonderful ministry this summer! I’m hoping and praying that our students going to Oxford this year will spend much of their free time praying for the city and its people.

 

Love Feast England

15 March 2012

Check out this amazing and powerful video.

Love Feast England Tour 2012 Promo Video from Love Feast on Vimeo.

 

PrayerWalk London: Good News, Bad News

6 March 2012

Several people have asked lately how PrayerWalk London is coming along. With the London 2012 Olympics just a few months away, it’s an understandable question. Well, as the saying goes, there’s good news and bad news.

Westminster Abbey

The bad news is that due to a technological mishap, I’ve lost all my PrayerWalk London manuscript files. I have all my hard copy research documents but it would take months to retype and rewrite all the walks. I had transferred all my files onto a jump drive — temporarily — while I returned a loaner laptop from work and waited a couple of weeks for my new laptop to be delivered. When I put the drive into the new machine, it did not recognize the device. In another laptop, the device was recognized but it said there were no contents. Yeah!! Just what every writer wants to hear!

My dad asked the IT people at his office and they said there was nothing that could be done. I have a vivid memory of him coming home from the office and almost casually tossing the flash drive in its Ziploc bag to me and saying, “Sorry. They said it’s dead and there’s nothing that can be done about it.” I was nearly in tears — but c’est la vie! 

I contacted IT at my work to see if by any chance they could still access the loaner laptop’s information … but it had been sent out for recycling.

Picturesque Pub

So much for that. Discouraged, and with only myself to blame, I put the project on hold for a few months while I grappled with the realities of my new job as a freelance writer and editor (esp. the part where if you don’t work, you don’t get paid!). I’m only just now coming back to it and have looked up some data recovery businesses in town that may, just may, be able to help recover the files.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’m reenergized about the project and the need for prayer and prayerwalking in London. Today, I searched online for “london prayer walk” and found that after the first search result (which was a dead link), results #2 and #3 direct to my PrayerWalk Guides website. That was pretty neat. But I was actually wanting to see if there are any prayerwalks currently going on in London and couldn’t find much of anything. That’s okay, though, that’s what PrayerWalk London is for: to fill a gap — a “prayer” gap.

Tower of London

On Thursday I should find out if the documents on my flash drive can be saved. Please pray!!!!

In the meantime, I’m working on the only chapter I was able to salvage: the Crime & Punishment Walk, starting at the Tower of London and winding its way through the narrow streets of London’s “City” district to a monument called, ironically, Monument (where the Great Fire of London started in 1666) then to the Bank of England and finally to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Old Bailey, the court of justice. It’s an exciting chapter and I’m loving going back through it and trying to remember little descriptive details from my own walks in the area.

Stay tuned for more! I hope to have some of the chapter posted within the week.

Your prayers for this project are most appreciated!!

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