AS THE Brexit negotiations are just one of the challenges facing Britain in 2018, one London priest believes that Parliament needs something “a bit weird” in its back garden.
The Vicar of St Peter’s, Notting Hill, the Revd Pat Allerton, is asking people to sign up to read the Bible aloud in Parliament Square, and hopes that, by 31 December, all 66 books will have been completed.
“Is it a bit weird?” he asks in the online video. “Sure. It is a bit out there? Yeah. But then so was Ezekiel, and we follow a man who was raised from the dead; so this should be a walk in the park.”
This week, he described how he first had the idea five years ago, after a vision in which he saw a giant sword being planted in the ground in the Square: “I felt God was saying ‘I want my word declared and spoken publicly over Parliament.’” Having previously launched 7:14 Prayer, which encouraged public prayer for nations, he decided that this year — “there is so much going on in the nation, with Brexit, and the Government” — would be an ideal time to act. Thanks to a benefactor who read about the vision online, a website with video was built within a week, and many of the daily slots for January have already been filled.
“Probably most of what it achieves will be stuff that we don’t see,” he said this week. “That is the spiritual reality of the world we live in: our battle is not against flesh and blood. I’m excited about it being a visible sign and statement of faith in a nation that is increasingly drifting away form its Christian heritage and moorings.”
While he accepts that politicians and other passers-by are unlikely to hear the words being read, he argues that “spiritually, our words have power, and in the heavenly realms, declaring God’s truth in that place, the seat of human power, will shift something, will sow seeds.”
People who sign up online immediately will receive an email with their readings for the day, and are asked to pray, after completing the reading, for the nation and its leaders. Conversations, he thinks, may be prompted by the readings. While conscious that some passages are “more challenging” to read aloud than others, he explains that “that is one of the things I quite like: it’s God’s word, all of it. We’d all like to read out our favourite verse, John 3.16 or something, but the reality is that someone’s gonna get Leviticus, and be declaring laws against shellfish.”
He hopes that, if asked, readers will be able to explain the context in terms of “the wider story of the Bible and God’s love for the world”.
Churches and small groups are among the readers already committed. “We all know it’s important to pray for our nation and Government,” Mr Allerton said. “Why not do it in the place of government? It has a unique spiritual atmosphere.The powers are at work.