Perth Prayer is a weekly prayer gathering in Wesley Church at the heart of the city’s CBD.
When I was recently asked to share at Perth Prayer I was initially annoyed at the expectation that I would have some notion in advance of what to say. Prophetic inspiration is meant to be spontaneous, I thought. However when the same friend prayed that the Lord would give me a message that sums up many of my other prophetic messages I sensed that God really has something to say through Perth Prayer and I realised I was being petty and arrogant. What follows is deeply connected to my recent preoccupation with the “mysteries of God” and a sure sense that it is God’s glory we must be seeking rather than a “revival”. People commonly speak about being “hungry for God”, but I believe the Spirit is talking about a much more precise longing.
Since Christ is at the heart of the mystery of God (Col 2:2), all human beings are indwelt by a homesickness for the all surpassing beauty of Jesus own humanity. This is not just an implanted desire to be like Jesus in character, but to be one with Jesus as his Bride. The book of Revelation climaxes with two splendid images, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the descent of the City of God from heaven (Rev 19; 21). Both are pictures of an indestructible beauty. The epitome of beauty is not the gold and precious stones of the city, but that the City and Bride are one. “Then …one of the seven angels… spoke to me…“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”… and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Rev 21:9-11) ESV). The beauty of the eternal City is the people of God. (The City is a Bride.)
Many people say that Perth is a beautiful city – clean, prosperous, sunny, blue skies and golden beaches. These are all objects of natural desire. No one however says that the city is resplendent in “the beauty of holiness” (Ps 29:2). It is the vocation of the saints of God in the city i.e. all his children, to communicate this splendour.
Bringing Christ’s Beauty to the City
Several years go as I was praying on the streets of Lausanne Switzerland I was overcome with grief at the sight of row upon row of shop windows peddling beautiful things, gems, leather goods, clothes etc, with no acknowledgement of God as the giver (Acts 17:16; Rom 1:20-21). Then suddenly I was totally overcome by the SPARKLING presence of Christ in everything, as the indwelling source of beauty in all things. I laughed aloud with exuberance. For those with eyes to see it, the glory of Christ is in everything everywhere (Isa 6:3; Heb 1:3). To sense such beauty is to be aware of the final destiny of all creation, which is the beautifying of humanity in the image of God/Christ. Such a Spirit of ultimate beauty is the presence that makes a marriage beauteous, which has the power to beautify the transparency in a commercial transaction or the relationships between office staff. God’s vision for his Church in Perth, as in every city, is to bring his beautifying Spirit into all the spheres of existence- business, politics, art, education, law, media, science, health etc. The Spirit calls us to war, not by aggression or polarisation, but a holy and total war in which Jesus is presented through us as an object of attraction and desire more alluring than any worldly thing. How does this specifically apply to Perth Prayer?
A Vision for Perth Prayer
The distinctive thing about Perth Prayer is that week in and week out Christians from all denominational backgrounds, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Pentecostal gather from across this city under the Lordship of Christ to pray. I know of nothing else quite like this that manifests the unity of the people of God in Perth.
I see Wesley Church at the heart of the CBD called to be a cathedral of beauty; it is like a lens through which the light of Christ radiates into all the dimensions of the city, or a lamp in the hand of Jesus enlightening the domains of darkness (Col 1:12-13). The ministry of God through this place is called to be a model for the churches across this city, a living sign that Jesus is not confined/contained in special buildings made with human hands (Acts 7:48; 17:25) but is the creator, sustainer and perfecter of all that is truly human. The LORD said to Zion, “you shall be…a royal diadem in the hand of your God” (Isa 62:3cf. 28:5). I see every Christian person in this city as held in the hand of Jesus, as a diadem through which the holy light of Christ shines bringing the glory of his presence everywhere they go. This is a marvellous sight, but it is not a romantic or idealistic one, because such glory beams only through the cross.
The Way of the Cross
It is the cross which beautifies everything. Only the sacrifice of the death of Jesus, only the blood of his limitless unconditional love can beautify the wickedness of this world. The blood of his love, the beauty of his sacrificial love is endless in its power to transform all things. Such a power however must first be released in us, Hebrews says “ since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” i.e. into the presence of holy beauty, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:19ff ESV) Brothers and sisters, there is nothing more beautiful in all creation in the sight of God than a conscience cleansed from guilt by the blood of the cross and a heart that trusts Christ’s finished work. As we enter the holy places of God through prayer his Spirit will impart something very precious to each of us. In the context of Perth Prayer God longs to give to each person in the marketplace of the city a sense of holy calling, a sacred trust and vocation to bring the beautifying presence of Jesus life into all things and to transform the unholy into the kingdom of God.
It is through a revelation of the beauty of the crucified Lord living in each of us that the Spirit will build a bridge from our lives of Christians to all the dimensions of the life of this city. This city belongs to Jesus, and he is calling for a total war to take this city for himself –a war, not by human means, but of prayer in the Spirit (Zech 4:6; Eph 6:18). This sort of conquest requires a radical change of mind. It is very “un-Australian” to think of work as a beautifying exercise, but when we work “as to the Lord and not to men” (Eph 6:7) our labour is united to the loving surrender of the cross and becomes in Christ “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2). No evil power, no matter how ugly, can resists such a beautiful presence, a presence which is in YOU (Col 1:27).
May we all submit to the Gem Cutter chiselling away with the Word that the sparkling wisdom of God in its rich variety may be manifested in all things through his Church (Eph 3:10).