Belfast: Jan 25-26, 2012
Our days of prayer in Belfast were preceded by 2 days at the YWAM centre in Rostrevor, situated right on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and formerly a Christian Centre for Reconciliation. These days were very rich as we received teaching from dedicated intercessors on the history of Ireland and spiritual insights into the impact of these things on the nation today. We learnt, for example, about the 800 years of English domination, the partition of Ireland in 1922 and the “Troubles” which although basically political, caused much bloodshed between Catholics and Protestants.
The first day in the city itself saw us praying at the City Hall where the Ulster Covenant was signed one hundred years ago this year. By this, the Protestants declared that they vowed to remain a part of the United Kingdom and would refuse any attempt to unite them (under Home Rule) to the southern (Catholic) part of the country. This was a significant event in deepening the rift already there and continues to have an influence today.
Following this, we prayed around various areas of the city where the “peace walls” (high walls and fences) still divide the Catholic and Protestant communities from each other. We were privileged to meet people who work for peace and reconciliation, reaching out across the divide to show God’s love and we prayed with them and for them.
Our time in Belfast also coincided with a week for Christian Unity and we were invited to a meal celebrating this at Clonnard Monastry.
A highlight for us was joining for an evening with a prayer group in Stormont – the Northern Ireland Parliament. We had a powerful time of worship and prayer, making declarations as God led us, both for the government and for the nation in general.
Finally we prayed at the docks where the Titanic was built 100 years ago this year. This particularly led us to pray into the identity of the nation – that she would find her value and identity in God rather than in trying to make a name for herself in human terms.
Before returning to Rostrevor, we stopped in Armagh – the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland and seat of both the Church of Ireland and the Catholic church. We joined with members of a Catholic prayer group calling out for God to restore the nation and bring true healing and forgiveness to this broken land. At this time and in other moments of prayer, we were able to bless each other across denominational and national divides. A real privilege!
It was a deeply moving 2 days which marked us by what we saw and heard. We believe God is making promises to this nation to gave her a hope and a future and 2012 is evidently a very significant year. We look forward with interest to see what God will do!