History & Background
Churches Together in Winchester (CTW) implemented an initiative in 2015 by creating “champions” for certain areas of church life within the city. Champions were and are likely to be people currently engaged in the area they will be invited to represent. One of these areas is intercession and in late 2015 Andrew took on the role of establishing an intercession group drawn from across the churches. The objective was to connect with all CTW churches to understand the spiritual climate and challenges in order to intercede effectively and to draw in others from around the city who God is raising up to pray for the city. All church leaders were written to and Andrew met many of them.
The group grew beautifully and rapidly to the point where today there are around 70 intercessors on the mailing list from across the churches in both the city and beyond. Of these there is a core group of regular attendees, complemented by occasional attendees and then remote pray-ers. Meetings take place on the first Saturday of the month at 9.30 (there are occasional exceptions eg in January and when breakfast is being provided!) at a local church (currently the Vineyard) and are typically attended by 15-20, though we have had over 40 at times. One of the encouraging aspects of the group is its organic growth through word-of-mouth, with there being at least one new intercessor at almost every meeting.
The meetings themselves
The monthly meeting is open to all those who have a heart for intercession and we would encourage as many people to come along and join in the fun! There is absolutely no pressure to pray aloud or even speak at all, there is no “right” way of praying, no performance prayer and certainly no Religious Spirit. What we do have is an extraordinary sense of unity amongst members, a lovely, warm, welcoming and supportive atmosphere and, most importantly, space for us to meet God, sit at His feet, receive love and refreshment, encouragement and guidance.
There are times of worship, times for relationship building – we do breakfasts once per quarter and are considering a retreat in 2018 – times of listening prayer, of petitioning God for the church, the city and the nation, and times for prophetic prayer.
Additional meetings have been called at various times, usually at times of national need, for instance there were many meetings before and after the Brexit vote and at Pentecost – some of these had 40+ people in attendance. The intercession team provided 24*7 prayer support over 3 days for the Tent on the Green Pentecost weekend in 2016.
The typical monthly meeting runs something like the following (times are broadly indicative):
9.20 Coffee and socializing
9.45 Introduction from Andrew and opening prayer
10.15 Group prayer as the Spirit leads
11.45 Coffee break
11.55 Round table – what are people bringing and hearing?
12.05 Pray into the round table outcomes
12.30 Closing prayer
Topics for intercession are first and foremost the city of Winchester and secondly, the nation. Members often bring material from other intercession groups across the nation, or prophetic words from across the globe to test. We have become aware of the rich history of the city and its importance over time in shaping the nation and indeed Europe, in both the spiritual and material realms.
In addition, of course, members do hard intercession miles between meetings, however there is real power and encouragement in intercessors dwelling together in unity in group meetings.
I take notes from all group sessions and obviously there is an enormous amount that has accumulated over the last 2 years. However, if I were to pick one scripture which God continually brings us back to for Winchester it would be Psalm 24:7-10
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
A group of intercessors walked up St Catherine’s Hill in 2016 and declared this scripture over the city.
We have felt the call to “get ready” which involved “crying out to God, clearing the way and letting God come”. This sounds simple but isn’t. We feel clearing the way is about us and our “flesh” getting in the way of God coming. In particular, and this plays into the Churches Together purpose, we see God is raising up many initiatives in the city and doing much work through different expressions of church. We believe God is calling us to be a loving and tolerant people, who support whatever He’s doing and to intercede accordingly. The following translation from the Message of James 3:13-18 (brought to our recent meeting) seems to capture what God wants our character to be and how we “clear the way”
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.
Finally, we sensed God’s biggest and loudest message to us in 2017 was to focus on Being not Doing and on Intimacy with God.
My experience of leading intercession at Christchurch for 6 years is that it offers group members a real chance to grow and mature in their giftings and I saw this play out beautifully with a number of intercessors. This will also be a hallmark of the CTW Intercession group. We also need to complement this natural growth process with tailored training and sharing of experience. We had a guest speaker in 2017 who really challenged and inspired us and we remain open to learning from any source.
We stand ready to follow God’s leading at all times, to participate in prayer and intercession initiatives across the city, including the call to revival prayer, and to support other expressions of church unity, whatever they may look like.
“Champion for Intercession”
YOUR CITY AND YOUR GOD NEED YOU! – why not sign up?