Posted by: stpowen | October 31, 2010

‘Only by prayer and fasting….’

Two new initiatives to ‘promote’ Christianity have been launched in the U.K. in recent days.  

The first of these is ‘Operation Nehemiah,’promoted by the Barnabus Fund.  I have much respect for Barnabus Fund and its Director, Patrick Sookhdeo.  It does wonderful work supporting persecuted Christians throughout the world.  The leaflet introducing Operation Nehemiah is long on diagnosis but short on the details of its proposed remedy.  Forty-four pages are taken up describing the decline of Christianity in Britain and the rise in the influence of Islam.  Thanks, Patrick, but I think I knew this already.  Just two pages sum up what O.N. proposes to do about it.  It intends to ‘promote Christian faith and values………Evangelism, especially outreach to Moslems, will be a priority…..Another priority will be the care of new converts from other faiths……We aim to teach Christians the importance of holy living, integrity and righteousness, and to demonstrate the beneficial effects of Christian ethics upon society.’  It all sounds fine, but in order to maximise its funds, Barnabus Fund draws its support from ‘churches’ and ‘Christians’ of all types.  There is no basis of faith that I am aware of, so any attempt to campaign for ‘holy living, integrity and righteousness’ is likely to fall as there is not likely to be any agreement as to what holy living and righteousness really mean.

The second initiative is ‘Not Ashamed’ promoted by Christian Concern for our Nation (CCFON).  This campaign has the aim of ‘encouraging the Church’  and ‘providing an opportunity for our nation to see that Christ is the only lasting hope.’  The way that these objectives are to be reached is apparently by Christians wearing a symbol- a wrist band or a lapel badge- carrying the motto, ‘Not Ashamed.’  The hope is that this will draw attention to the Christian hope and bring about helpful conversations between Christians and their unbelieving friends.  I have no objection to this idea- I may even splash out on a badge or a tie-pin myself- but Christians have been wearing fishes and crosses for a long time now and it doesn’t seem to have brought revival.

 I don’t want to dismiss utterly either of these initiatives.  If God were dead, then these sorts of promotional activity would be absolutely essential.  But being of the conviction that God is very much alive, I believe we need first to ask ourselves why we are in the situation that we are.  ‘Behold, the LORD’s arm is not straitened so that He cannot save, not is His ear deaf so that He cannot hear, but you iniquities have separated you from your God so that He will not hear.‘    Surely it is clear to all that God has turned His face away from this land because of our collective wickedness and we are no longer experiencing His blessing upon us.  This has been the situation for a long time now.  There has been no shortage of initiatives and outreaches in recent times, but I cannot see that any of them has lived up to its promotors’ expectations.  The summer is past; the harvest is ended, and we are not saved.’

Perhaps the situation in Mark 9:14ff may be helpful to us.  The disciples are unable to do anything to cast out the demon from the child.  Only Christ can do it and He tells them , “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  So it is with us.  Our best efforts have failed to shake the devil’s kingdom.  Indeed, so secure does he appear to be that one feels that Satan could well afford to be in semi-retirement just now, only emerging from time to time to whisper in the ear of some church minister or other, “Keep it up!  You’re doing a grand job!”

We need to accept that God is not blessing our activities.  Merely to continue our programmes in the face of God’s rejection will get us nowhere (Num 14:40-42).  The one thing that we need as a nation right now is repentance, and it needs to start with the churches (1Peter 4:17).  We need to confess that over the years we have failed to preach the Gospel faithfully and to call Britain back from her sins.  We allowed abortion, the abandonment of the Lord’s day, the breakdown of family life and the general immorality we see all around us today with scarcely a squeak.

If Operation Nehemiah, CCFON or anyone else wants to do some real good in the land then they should start by calling the churches together for repentant prayer, fasting and humiliation (Joel 2:12-17).   Actually, I feel that such a call should not come from a para-church Christian ‘quango,’ but from the churches themselves.  The various Gospel Partnerships (1), which are free associations of Gospel churches,  would be better  vehicles.  But however it is called and whoever calls it, in God’s name let us be about it!   The times are desperate, the churches are weak, the country mired in sin, but God’s word calls us to turn to Him and promises that He will hear us if we do (2).


(1)  There is a list of Gospel Partnerships at  I don’t know if it is complete.

(2) See 2Chron 7:13-14.  See  for a series of essays on this text.



  1. It’s good to hear about these two initiatives. Something has to be done to arrest the utter moral decline of this country. It’s better late than never – possibly futile but worth a go. I have quite a lot of respect for Patrick Sookhdeo. Unlike many Christian ministers today, he’s one to rightly warn about the gradual, rising influence of Islam in this country. I hear too many Christian leaders talking about the need for ‘inter-faith dialogue’. Why can’t they just stand up for their own faith? Religions are fundamentally different – something liberal Christian leaders don’t seem to understand. All religions simply can not be true.

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