(i) Justin Coldstream
At around the time of the referendum, I had a sense that a Leave result was very likely. It almost felt like a spiritual earthquake taking place! On the night before the vote, our church home group was treated to the most spectacular rainbow over Poole harbour – truly memorable and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. I took this to be a reassurance from God that He was watching over us for our good. But since then, we have been plunged into a crucible of pain and confusion over Brexit. The promises seem to have been all but forgotten, whether the [often dubious] ones made by the Leave campaign, or the spiritual promises that I along with many others believe that we received.
We are entering a crunch point for the negotiations. It is increasingly looking as though one side or the other will have to move (substantially) to make anything work. If Europe moves, that essentially means giving Britain permission to trade freely with the EU whilst breaking some of the Single Market rules (to whatever extent). They are, at the moment, determined not to do this. One can see why – they are nervous of cascade effects, other countries wishing to change their relationship with the EU seeking a similar advantageous deal to the one negotiated by Britain. Never mind the political legwork of getting so many countries with very different outlooks to agree unanimously to any such deal.
On the other hand, if Britain moves, this might well mean aligning the trading rules that operate in Northern Ireland to the EU, effectively allowing a border down the Irish Sea. Since the DUP would be likely to vote down the Conservative budget under these circumstances, this might mean a General Election, which might in turn lead to the cancellation of Brexit entirely, possibly through another referendum.
So how do we pray now?
Shortly after the referendum, I asked the Lord to show me some scriptures that might be a suitable springboard for prayer. I have listed portions of two psalms I was given at the time.
From Psalm 79:
Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
From Psalm 80:
How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smoulder against the prayers of your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbours, and our enemies mock us. Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:4-7)
The first principle I see is that we should recognise our sinfulness and lack of deserving as a nation, in short, our desperate need. There is a need for us to accept short term spiritual discomfort. I believe that as we recognise this, feel the pain, and cry out in desperation, God will come to us.
“Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” (79:8)
We do not deserve a good Brexit! There are past, and recent, national sins such as greed and individualism/cold-heartedness and many other such things that have led to a lack of vision and direction as a nation and a loss of any sense of what being British actually means. Thank God that the millennial generation is increasingly being dubbed “Generation sensible”. Let’s pour out our hearts for them, that they would become scripturally educated and filled with God’s Spirit, building on the self-discipline that they seem to be showing. Let them be the ones who gain the vision and direction. They will have to work with whatever flavour of Brexit they inherit.
The third principle is our relationship with other nations.
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” (79:10)
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbours, and our enemies mock us. (80:6)
We know that God still has a purpose for this nation. He wants us to regain God as in times past so that we may be a light to the nations again. At the moment we look like a nation that has fallen so completely that we are good only to be laughed at! But I believe these psalms show us that God does not intend it to be like this. As and when we build up new trading relationships around the world, these should carry a sense of God with them. Pray for truly godly deals to be done, of a sort that we are not used to seeing. Whatever Commonwealth nations become closer trading partners with us, may they be blessed as well as being a blessing to us.
Even if we end up with a “no deal” Brexit, we obviously also need to pray that our relationships with the European nations remain healthy. There are, it appears, ‘orderly’ and ‘disorderly’ variants of “no deal”, such is the complexity of the whole negotiating process. Pray for God to have his powerful hand on the remaining negotiations. There are obviously risks to the peace of Ireland through this, but also, surely, if we pray, great opportunities for deep healing of cultural divisions.
If we end up with any sort of “good deal”, it is likely to make the rest of the EU more difficult to manage, as other disaffected nations become more vocal. We will not have any sort of voice in Europe – any attempt at advice would probably be resented, but we can pray. Could the monetary union be loosened somewhat, so as to allow nations to individuate more than currently? Could there be a new European settlement based on deep respect for each nation, and a sense of dealing with that nation in the most appropriate way for them? Could there be an end to the offering of cheap loans to new EU entrants, fixed immovably to the Euro? Such loans promise to boost these countries’ economies in the short term, but they frequently find themselves with unpayable debt some years down the line.
Finally, I believe we should pray unashamedly for revival. Let us not forget the promises many of us received at the time of the referendum. It is easy, these days, to be aware that we need restoration. Which of us does not feel grieved at problems such as “legal highs” and cyber-bullying, to name but two of the many issues? Let’s offer up believing prayer to God, so that our nation may enjoy His wonderful salvation. He can do what we cannot for ourselves! Pray for people to have revelations of Jesus, and for the spirit of conviction to be let loose. Pray for sinners to cry out to God for mercy, and to receive it. Pray for the churches to prepare for some hard work, and to be ready to counsel those who need help.
Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved (80:7)
Most of all, I pray that a spirit of fervent, believing prayer may take hold of us.
“Never stop praying. Always believe.” (Diana Leagh Matthews)
God bless you all.
(ii) from Linda Entwistle
When I asked that the Lord for some guidance as to how I could pray about Brexiot, breakfast the words, “Who are the architects?” came into my head – and also, “Who set the deadlines?” If a building is delayed while being built, do we say, “let’s just abandon the project since it won’t be completed on time?” – as if the challenge wasn’t met and so doesn’t deserve to be successful.
Added to the fact that the enemy always loves to frustrate plans; not only is this building uniquely complex, but nobody really know knew what the architect’s drawings looked like at the beginning – they are having to be created and adjusted as the building develops.
There is no final blueprint to check against, and so we have too many architects coming up with their own plans. However there is only one Architect. “From one man He made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth, and He determined the time set for them in the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:26) and He did this so that we would reach out to Him.”
And so the question I’m asking is, in what way can Brexit be instrumental in causing people to reach out to Him? Surely that is what it’s all about at the end of the day!
If God has allowed Brexit to bring about what He has determined, then my prayers should be, “Bring your plans to completion, Lord!” And if Theresa May is the architect’s representative, then perhaps we should be praying for her to be a lot clearer in seeing and interpreting the drawings!