Canterbury: such a historic city. Like many cities with a strong history, the city can either be locked in the past, or break free to release resources for the future. The type of city is such that new things can come but they will often quickly be assimilated into the landscape, becoming domesticated and part of the status quo.
It was such a privilege to work there and to partner with those calling for a new future. Each morning we had around 40+ people together for 3 hours for teaching and prayer, and similar numbers in the afternoon. Then we gathered each evening for prophetic input and direction.
It is not possible to write here everything that took place, the content of our time there seems very intense. This report will be fairly lengthy and I highlight just a few things then I have asked Richard Farrant to write something from an ‘insider’ perspective.
Colette Nelson was on the team and she had a waking vision (a not uncommon time to receive revelation) and saw a man being hanged outside a window. There were some vague memories of something like this… but when the history book was checked (thank you, Jo) there was a major event in 1659 when the mayor of the city was set upon by a mob and was hung exactly as Colette saw. This was at west gate – one of the ancient gates that is still present in the city. In that gate sits the guildhall – place of decision making, and also the masonic lodge. Before we had that revelation we had already been drawn to the gate. The first time we knelt and prayed on the ground, for only humility can pull down the powers. The second time with the knowledge of the hanging we broke bread there.
Vision from 7 years ago. I was part of a small team that went to Canterbury just after the previous archbishop resigned to pray into the new appointment. At that time I saw a cog / capstan in Canterbury from which steel cords went out in different directions. This was wound incredibly tightly so that nothing could move. It was wound in an anti-clockwise direction. I cannot say for sure where the cords went to, but certainly to Thanet, to Dover, to the South East corner of Kent, to London, to the west (a long one0, and then one in a South Westerly direction anchoring itself on the South coast.
This came back to me many times and for the first time I understood the reason for the anti-clockwise direction (I had never thought of the significance before). It was against the clock – holding time back. I believe that this was seriously undone and there has been a release of time there.
I expected two record temperatures there last summer – sometimes signs are an indication as to whether the reality they point to has come through or not… so maybe this coming summer?
In 1991 I had a vision of an oval table and around it were gathered international people. They clearly had resources, and they were together to receive downloads about the issue of relieving poverty. From the place of revelation and strategy they went to nations, had entrance at high levels. They did not come with money primarily, but with strategies for the economy. In some places in a short period of time poverty was released off certain nations. The Gospel then flowed in through this door.
I have often prayed into this, but for the first time ever I asked for that table to manifest in a specific place: Canterbury / Kent.
A couple of other points:
The University is called a University for Europe. The church has to become a church for Europe.
Community houses will rise up, monastic movements, with all-but continual training for mission are all part of the destiny of the city.
I cannot stop my part of the report without mentioning the impact that Lyndall Bywater made on us all. She is a woman dedicated to prayer. She works in many settings but particularly in the 24-7 element within the Salvation Army. A prophetic sign in the city at so many levels. She is a major pioneer with where and how she lives. And a woman of extraordinary sight. I honour a sign prophet.
I have asked Richard Farrant to write something from his perspective. He has lived in Kent all his life and moved to Canterbury seven years ago to pray in the city.
It is difficult to know where to begin. For some within the city it has been a prayer for some considerable time that a team would come to stand with us to help us pray and push through on some issues. Timing is always vital and over a period of time there has been a sense of a shift both in Canterbury and in Kent as a whole so this felt like a strategic moment. There where a number of recurring themes that ran through the time together. Themes such as: the importance of hearing a new sound and rhythm in the city and the need to see the City come up to speed with what God is saying and doing with a new shape coming to the church bringing a greater release of the body in the city.
The challenge of praying somewhere like Canterbury is the sheer amount of history. In almost any history book of the UK that is opened it will not be too long before there is a mention of the city. The city has a lot of history: some good, some bad; with a lot of history that has been sown into the land there is much to be cleansed but there is also a lot to draw from.
One of the most encouraging things for me was the response of those both in the city and from Kent to come and pray with most days having upwards of 40 people during the day from a number of churches in the city as well as others coming from surrounding towns and areas.
If we were looking for a sign then I think it was not long in coming literally for within the first 2 minutes (and probably within the first 30 seconds) of starting to pray on the first morning just as we started to lift up our voices in prayer the fire alarms in the building burst into life deafening us but not deterring us from praying. The reference to the city being surrounded by a wall of fire (Zechariah 2 4-5) helped us focus our prayers into the walls and gates as well as praying for the glory of God to fill the city.
Praying in the gates seemed to be a good place to start Canterbury has 7 gates. There is a new development taking place in the city that has involved opening a new gateway onto the A2 (the road to London) and in the process of doing this the builders are rebuilding part of the city wall. One of the things that kept coming up was a vision Martin had some years ago while praying in Canterbury it was of a tightly wound spool with lines going out from Canterbury the spool was wound so tightly that nothing could move what and he understood during the time here was the spool was wound anti clockwise thus highlighting how Canterbury was holding back the timing in many places.
One of the most significant and sobering places we went to pray was the Martyrs field where there is a monument to 41 believers who where burnt for opposing the religious authorities. They were brought from across the area to the city to be burnt, the location itself lies in alignment with the cathedral a Bronze age burial site and runs out through Canterbury all the way to Glastonbury. This site is not on the tourist route and like many things in the city is hidden away.
One of the major areas of prayer focused on the relationship between Thanet which was once an island at the very tip of the south east and Canterbury Martin had brought a word last year of the importance of Thanet to Kent and the need to hold together. The two areas could not be more sharply contrasted Canterbury with it power and position and importance; Thanet so often looked down upon and at times despised by the rest of Kent but clearly the relationship and partnership between Thanet and the rest of Kent is vital. There was a very significant time of prayer and repentance into this.
Canterbury is a truly international city for so many years it has been a drawing place for the nations it was clear from the prayers and the words spoken over the city that Canterbury has an important future to play in both the training and releasing of people for mission as well as being a centre of the release of strategies to address the issues of poverty in nations. Martin spoke of a table around which people would come from across the nations to plan and strategise as to how to resolve poverty in nations.
The last day we visited the Cathedral which is a very challenging place to pray if the history of the city is intense the Cathedral encapsulates that. It was significant that as we entered on a Saturday afternoon at around 3 o’clock that Rowan Williams was conducting a service appointing new canons, maybe a symbol of a new order in the church in the city.
It is really hard to summarise how much ground we covered and areas we touched I believe it exceeded all of our expectations there is clearly a new shape coming to the church in the city and to the county of Kent as a whole. The week really felt like it released something in the city which will benefit the city but will also have an effect on the county and further afield.