Ros and I love the imaginative news analysis programme in Beyond 100 Days on weekday nights on the BBC News Channel. A few months ago, the team presented two sharply contrasting scenarios of what we could wake up to in Britain on April 1st 2019 immediately following the Brexit deadline. One scenario proceeded serenely well, whilst the other was a catalogue of setbacks and worse.
The EU can be decidedly shrewd when it comes to finding ways to ‘fudge’ solutions for difficult issues when it feels the need to do so – albeit it that it has never had to face anything so challenging before as a key nation pulling away from membership. Brinkmanship is a reality of any negotiating process, as is the increasing awareness of just how difficult the Conservatives will find it to get any Withdrawal Bill accepted through an increasingly partisan House of Commons – and just how deeply previous treaties such as Maastricht and Lisbon have tied us into the European process.
Any illusion that Britain will be permitted to enjoy the full benefits of the single market without being fully part of it would seem to be just that – an illusion. If anything, the EU would appear to be every bit as concerned to avoid giving the impression that a nation can get away with leaving Brussels on advantageous as it is with preserving ties with Britain as a regular trading partner.
We can either pin our hopes on some last minute fudge – or make a deliberate effort to make seeking God’s face in prayer about this a priority. We will be following up this thought in the next edition, but please bear it very much in mind, both as regards our own nation and our European neighbours and colleagues.
To accompany this message we are sending out a ‘prayer to match the hour’ concerning the specific challenges that Brexit presents. The music you will hear is a short but beautiful piece by one of my favourite composers, Jean Baptiste Loeillet from Flanders.
Click here for the words of the prayer – but we very much hope that you will also choose to listen to them, as we have set them to music with the very first three notes representing a call to prayer.
I chose a reflective rather than an abrasive piece of music to draw us into the Father’s presence. That in no way should lull us from the intensity of the spiritual realities involved, or from the long hours of debate that assuredly lie ahead. They are sure to be distinctly passionate, but we are primarily concerned here to seek the Lord’s heart, for Him to hear, heed and find a way through.
Carol Sampson’s song, Miracle working God, is an equally heart felt prayer. Although she doubtless originally intended it with more personal issues in mind, there is nothing to prevent us from using it to pray for the Lord to intervene concerning national issues too!
With Brexit causing both the main political parties such complications, to say nothing of the effect on the whole fabric of the European process, it is clear that this situation is calling for precisely the sort of new initiative I mentioned in the recorded prayer.
What we have seen so far from the leadership on either side of the Channel does not inspire confidence that they possess the breadth of vision and perhaps above all the flexibility to bring about something that will provide a satisfactory outcome. Boris Johnson’s speech was so well received at the Conservative conference because it expanded people’s field of vision and raised their people’s hopes to look beyond the present impasse – but does Boris really have either the capacity or the integrity to bring such a thing about?
A friend wrote to me, ‘We need a Godly new solution to the Brexit negotiations. Obviously not new to God but yet to be revealed to those in charge of the negotiations; something that will overcome the seemingly impossible hurdles and break the logjam. I, for one, have believed from the early stages that if God does not reveal a different way – and people do not act on it – then the process could well end in chaos.
There is hardly any time left if we are to avoid a no deal Brexit or a prolonged political battle by the Remainers to keep us in the EU way beyond the final exit date. To say that it is all a mess is an understatement, which is the main reason I voted ‘remain’ as we do not presently have sufficient political leadership to enable Brexit to thrive. We will barely survive with the leaders we currently have who mainly wish to remain, but are scared of losing their seats if they openly confess to this. They have no real heart desire for Brexit and seem to have little idea how to make it work well.
The beautiful music in the prayer you recorded was appropriate. It sounded a bit like a lament as well as a call for urgent prayer. The times are indeed urgent. I hope this helps, and I pray that your article will release the prayer that will help to bring about a Godly solution. Every blessing . . .
It’s up to us to pray that this process does not go badly wrong
Good outcomes are by no means automatic. Brother Andrew reminds us that there are only two kinds of nations: those that imagine that nothing can ever go seriously wrong – and those that thought that nothing like that could ever happen. Along ‘worst case scenarios’ I was reading Lamentations 4 recently in the living Bible.
Verse 12 onwards describes an immense shock: no one had ever believed anything so serious as Jerusalem being taken would ever really happen. “Not a king in all the earth – no one in all the world – would have believed an enemy could enter through Jerusalem’s gates!” Yet God permitted it because . . . and He goes on to elaborate on the reasons for the disaster. (In the case of the UK leaving the EU, of course, there isn’t an enemy – unless our own sense of self-importance makes us our own worst enemy).
Let’s face it – the Lord is not lacking in issues He can hold the UK to account for! Verse 17, for example, highlights the folly of putting one’s trust in supposedly solid alliances that in the hour of testing prove to be lacking. ‘Our eyes failed, watching vainly for our allies to come and save us, but we look in vain. The nation we expected most to help us makes no move at all.’
In Judah’s case the ‘ally’ they were pinning their hopes on was almost certainly Egypt – but God had already called Egypt a ‘broken reed’, and warned them not to put their trust in them . . . For us, of course, it might be America. Look deeper and we find the core reason why all this was happening in verse 16. The LORD himself has scattered them; He no longer watches over them. (GWT) Why? Because of all they had done to oppose those who remained faithful and true to God.
No, the Lord is not saying that we are the most guilty country in the world in persecuting believers – we are actually blessed with politicians who stand up forcefully on behalf of persecuted believers all over the world – but let’s not fool ourselves either: as a nation we have done a very great deal not only to avoid but to oppose the Lord’s prescription for life: to love serve and honour the Lord in everything, and to love others as ourselves.
Lord, you have been showing us for many decades that there cannot but be serious consequences for failing so signally to do this. In that sense Brexit may represent one significant thrust of those consequences – but only one thrust. All will not miraculously be put right if Europe does indeed extend some sort of a political and trading lifeline to the UK. Economic meltdown may be averted, but it doesn’t solve the biggest problem of all – the heart of millions in a nation that is not set on seeking God.
People were becoming increasingly desperate for rain during the 1976 drought, and You said that whereas we are concerned for a few drops of rain, but You are grieving over the lack of true turning to You across the nation.
As economists and politicians scrabble in search of formulas and fudges that will work across many sphere of trade and politics, let’s pray (and fast) for really serious work to be done deep in people’s souls. Those who have faith are heavenly in His sight and deeply pleasing to Him – but without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6).
Lord as many tides swirl around the coast of Britain at this time, let them achieve their purposes and bring about such outcomes and such changes as You are seeking, and that bring about Your highest purposes. In Jesus’ name.
Lord,as many tides and eddies swirl around the whole issue of Brexit, we are seeking You to achieve such outcomes and bring about such changes as will be best for many in the long run, and that bring about Your highest purposes. In Jesus’ name.
We are also releasing the music of the prayer above as an instrumental version.