Seek and Pray for the Peace and Prosperity of Places - Paul Blakey MBE:
The last 16 months or so have proved a challenging and difficult time for our High Streets. Long established businesses have gone and we have seen massive change and shift in the way we shop and socialise.
As we move, hopefully, out of lockdowns, town and city centres are faced with a new reality as more people move to online shopping and we see an increased number of empty units as we wander along our high streets. In order to survive and thrive I think places need to change to become destinations that major on the uniqueness you can't receive online: places of independent retail mixed in with the established brands; places of leisure and relaxation; places to meet and connect; places you want to visit.
This is a challenge! But where does the church fit into this?
In 2005 I set up Street Angels which has become a movement of volunteers partnering with God to bring community change. God's Kingdom demonstrated as a reality for people and our communities.
I have visited towns and cities across the UK and overseas meeting and connecting with volunteers, church leaders, police, business owners, town centre managers, local councillors and MP's. I am always struck by how passionate people are about the place they are based. As we wander the town or city centre at night I hear stories of history, stories of connections, stories of life and stories of hope.
In my home town of Halifax the Piece Hall reopened in August 2017 after a £19million regeneration. On that day 22,000 people visited this place. Cash machines ran out of money, every cafe and restaurant had queues, the town had national media attention and the atmosphere was lifted. As I stood on the balcony, taking pictures, I felt God say, "pray for the peace and prosperity". Later I looked this up and found the verse in the Bible, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city... pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers you too will prosper" (Jeremiah 29:7).
As Christians we are in some way responsible for the peace and prosperity of our places!
Out of this day I set up the4Ps.org - a collaborative of people who are intentional about Seeking and Praying for the Peace and Prosperity of their Places.
In these months ahead can I encourage you to become part of the4Ps Collaborative to seek and pray for the peace and prosperity of your places. the4Ps vision and aims are:
Join us on our quest of the4Ps - PRAY, PEACE, PROSPERITY, PLACES....
the4ps.org / facebook.com/the4ps
“seek the peace and prosperity of places... Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
Father we pray for every place across this country - for every community, every village, every town, every city, every region as well as the nation and nations.
We thank you for places - places of community, places we call home, places of work, places where we shop, places of business, places where we spend our leisure time, places where we meet others, places of education and learning, places we connect with amazing countryside and architecture, places we travel to and through, places of spirituality, places of history, places where heaven meets earth.
We thank you that there is no place where you are absent, no person you do not love. Father, we thank you that through your son Jesus you call all people to relationship and purpose.
We pray for those places and people who have been affected by the situations of the last few months. We declare peace and prosperity for every place and every person. We pray that our economy, and businesses of every kind, will be strong. We pray for prosperity in terms of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. We pray for a continued sense of community cohesion and of loving others. We pray that people will continue to see true value and worth. We pray for those bringers of peace to our communities and that as your church, your people, we will seek partnership and to be a blessing.
Father help each and every one of us to be seekers of peace and prosperity for the places where we are and in doing so may your Kingdom come, your will be done, in those places as in heaven - Amen.
An initiative which aims to encourage Christians to seek and pray for the peace and prosperity of places has had a relaunch to help the church newly engage in local communities.
the4Ps.org was an idea of Paul Blakey MBE, founder of Street Angels. He explains,
"On 1st August 2017 the Piece Hall in Halifax was reopened after a £19million renovation.
"The place attracted 22,000 visitors on that day, cash machines ran out of money, every cafe and restaurant had long queues and the atmosphere in the town lifted.
"As I stood on the balcony in Piece Hall God reminded me to 'pray for the peace and prosperity'.
"Later I looked this up and found the verse in Jeremiah 29:7, 'Seek the peace and prosperity of the city... pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers you too will prosper'"
"A few days later the4Ps.org was launched as I had a renewed sense and passion that the church should be leading the way in seeing communities transformed, for believing for better, for praying and working towards the peace and prosperity of places."
As the UK came out of lockdown a new Facebook group, the4PsCollaborative was set up as a way of connecting all those who share the visions and aims, which are:
To believe and work towards better within your places (community, village, town, city, borough, region, nation and world!)
To talk up places not talk down. Quit moaning! Celebrate the good and work and pray towards solving issues and problems!
To join the history of God at work through his people - the place you are has decades, hundreds and maybe thousands of years of history of God doing amazing stuff - this is your moment, this is your generation, this is the time to make your mark on the world!
To pray and work towards God’s Kingdom becoming a reality for all - what would our communities look like if crime was reduced, addictions were gone, homelessness was a memory, businesses were prospering, different communities got along...... Jesus taught us to pray ‘God’s Kingdom come, God’s will be done, on earth as in heaven’ - prayer and action go hand in hand!
To leave a legacy for future generations. We are building for the better of the future! How cool is that!!!!
the4Ps has also partnered with The Encouragers Network which has a vision to share faith filled encouraging messages with others.
The founder of The Encouragers Network, Tommy Stewart, comments,
"People in every walk of life need encouragement like never before.
"If we are to see our town and cities prosper we need to release a fresh wave of faith filled hope.
"We are delighted to partner with the 4P’s in establishing ‘encouragers networks’ in towns and cities across the UK with each encourager sending out an inspiring message of encouragement to someone in their community each day of the year.
For more information and to join the movement of seeking and praying for the peace and prosperity of your place visit the4ps.org or facebook.com/the4ps