The National Day of Prayer and Worship was a six hour programme that blended music from a host of well known artists (Graham Kendrick, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Noel Robinson, Guvna B) with corporate and individual prayers that were both heartfelt and intimate.
London Day of Prayer convener Jonathan Oloyede told the gathering that he had had the vision for this event 18 years ago. It was Wembley, but didn‘t have the Twin Towers. ‘I didn’t understand it at the time,’ he said. ‘But it meant a new place.’
Inviting those present to declare Jesus is Lord for all the regions, cities, towns and villages of the UK, Mr Oloyede said the Lord wants to unite the Church. The people are already in place - we are not called to start something new - but 'join the dots'.
‘Every single one of us are in position across the nation,’ he said. ‘We are the touch God is going to use.’ One of the visions of the day was to kickstart a movement of one million Christians praying the Lord's Prayer each day at noon.
The day was divided into segments themed by aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. A sober section from 3pm entitled ‘Forgive us our sins’ saw the gathering led in an act of repentance, reflecting on the state of the nation. But despite 'families being divided and institutions crumbling, the message declared from the stage was ‘there is hope’ - provided we put God first and love him with all our heart.
Earlier the crowd, led by Jane Holloway, had thanked God for the difference the church had made over the past year in the country, with particular reference to Jubilee and Olympic activities.
There was a focus on supporting and equipping young people, with 300 of them in red hoodies - the Gideon Army - thronging the pitch’s perimeter while LZ7 were playing. They represent all the regions of the UK and have signed up play their part in bringing about unity and transformation to the nation.
They were then prayed over to the backdrop of an enthusiastic Mexican Wave that at one point didn’t show any signs of stopping.
There was a mixture of corporate prayer, with everyone reciting from specific prayers on the two large screens next to the main stage, alongside times where the crowd was encouraged to pray in groups of two or three. At one stage a number of children prayed in their own languages from the main stage, showcasing both the diversity of those present and the universal nature of God's welcome.
Music ranged the Salvation Army's brass band (including a stirring Abide With Me from the centre of the Wembley turf) to the rap and dance of LZ7. The latter teamed up with Matt and Beth Redman for the Twenty Seven Million anti-trafficking and slavery track, while Graham Kendrick reprised his old classic Shine Jesus Shine to much acclaim.
The crowd was a mixture of ages and cultures, and Tearfund chief executive Matthew Frost (the development charity was one of the event's sponsors) said it was important to gather on such a large scale.
Mr Frost had spoken on stage about the number of children around the world in 'stupid poverty', and said, 'It's so encouraging coming together like this. You realise you are not alone.
'It will encourage us to be bolder and more courageous. But this event has a focus on inwards, upwards and outwards - it must go beyond today. I hope it is a catalyst of prayer, and will embolden the local church to be more courageous in making the gospel visible.'