A couple of weeks ago I joined a group of nine to 13 year olds on a trip to London. It wasn’t your usual school-trip type outing with unruly kids and overwrought adults. Rather, it was a day of peace, power and promise – and for me, a profoundly moving experience.
Dubbed ‘Operation London 2012’, the event was hosted by Children Changing Nations (CCN), a newly established inter-church movement that is raising up children to be intercessors and empowering them to pray for a changed Britain.
The origins of CCN lie in a children’s ministry conference held in 2010 when a guest speaker from the US shared her longing to see children praying in Westminster Abbey. This ignited a spark in the hearts of several children’s leaders and the vision for CCN was born.
How did I get to share in their extraordinary day out? The children’s pastor at my local church is one of CCN’s leaders, and when she described the pilot project they ran last year, I knew this was a good-news story begging to be told.
So there I was in London on a wet summer’s day with a handful of lovely kids – part of a group of nearly 80 from nine churches – all praying up a spiritual storm.
Operation Heal the Sick and Operation Broadcast Heaven
After a time of worship the children divided into groups and went on missions into different parts of the capital. Some went to a large hospital where they prayed for people and handed out Holy Spirit messages of love. Another group toured the BBC studios, prayed for God to be glorified through media broadcasts, and declared God’s rule and reign over the airwaves.
A third team climbed to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral and blew bubbles of God’s presence and blessing over London and the financial district. Outside the stock exchange they prayed for successful trading and handed out to passersby chocolate coins symbolizing they were valuable to God.
I tagged along with the last group which went to 10 Downing Street and Westminster Abbey. At England’s most famous address they presented a petition about the e-Safety campaign (protecting children from inappropriate Internet content), and prayed for the people they encountered.
Two of the little girls who waited outside with the rest of us, leant against the railings and blew bubbles of blessing towards number 10, undeterred by the picture-snapping tourists behind them and armed policemen in front. I felt overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, and praised God through my tears. One of the children said, “It felt like we were giving presents to the Prime Minister.” I don’t know what kind of day David Cameron had on Friday, 8 June, but I’m certain it was a whole lot better than usual!
Operation Rule and Reign
At Westminster Abbey (after stopping to pray for two policemen outside the Houses of Parliament) the kids were given keys with tags attached. Our children’s pastor explained, “We want to strengthen and encourage whomever God tells you to give your key to. Who God says they are is the key to unlocking their heart. So ask God what He wants to say and write it on your tag.”
One child wrote, ‘God says you are speshull, joyfull, loveing, happy.’
Another little girl gave her key to a tourist saying, “God says you are loved, and that will unlock anything you want.”
Finally we were given a conducted tour around the tomb of the king who built the original abbey, St Edward the Confessor. This area is not open to the general public, but the children were welcomed. Westminster has always been linked to England’s monarchy, so there we prayed for the Queen and declared the positive and influential role the church has in the nation.
It was a remarkable day, and humbling to experience the kids’ obvious delight and confidence in praying and sharing God’s love with everyone they met.
I was also excited to see how CCN reminds the children of their identity in Christ. They are taught that through their prayers they can take ground for God, bring heaven to earth, change their communities, transform lives through the love they share, and change news headlines by making positive declarations. Having adults believe in them and entrust them with prayer for the nation, encourages them.
The leaders don’t tell them what to pray, but rather encourage them to be led by the Holy Spirit. And the practical actions (such as blowing bubbles and drawing pictures) help them to focus and have fun at the same time!
These children know they are powerful and significant; that they can hear from God and change situations through prayer. They are not bound by the nagging doubts and fears that sometimes accompany our adult prayers. They have simple, believing faith.
Operation London 2012 reminded me of the psalm referred to by Jesus in the book of Matthew: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2)
For more information see www.childrenchangingnations.org.uk