When I pray I like to listen as much as I speak and the way that God speaks to me is often through my imagination and in pictures.
As I prayed for the South Western Division and our corporate challenge of reaching Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and part of South Gloucester the image that came to mind was of Salvationists with their shoes off, kneeling on the street, each with an ear to the ground. I had a real sense of this happening first in the cities in our region with representative Salvationists from different corps, centres and ministries in those cities coming together; maybe not just in the cities of the South West but further afield.
The Salvationists had taken their shoes off in the street because holy ground for them is not in their buildings, albeit that they are dedicated to God for his purposes but because we are called to serve him in the midst of our communities.
They were kneeling, as an act of repentance and humility, knowing that sometimes we have allowed our past, our position and our reputation to matter too much. It is a time to forsake those things for the sake of a nation which needs to see Christ, the Servant King. This is a time when many Christians feel marginalised and the temptation is to cling on to what makes us feel tall and approved of but we will best stand for Christ, if we first kneel beside him and serve.
And finally they had their ear to the ground because they need to hear the cry of lost and broken humanity.
This image particularly reminded me of words of William Booth
“Put your ear down to the Bible and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face whose mercy you profess to obey and tell them whether you will join body soul and spirit and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.”
I also felt that the taking off of shoes, the kneeling and the putting their ears to the ground was also something that Salvationist were doing before one another. No one ministry stood above another, everyone’s place of service is holy ground and the need for all of us is to hear the cry of the lost above the noise of our busyness and our internal affairs.
I do not know whether we need to literally take our shoes off, kneel on the street and put our ear down to the pavement but I do believe that if we go and pray in our cities in the spirit of unity, obedience, reverence, humility, repentance and passion for the lost, then God may hear from heaven and pour out his Spirit again.