While the Global Call to 24-7
Prayer – a day and night cry for justice seeks to be an ongoing prayer initiative, there are already several
Salvation Army centres with a sense of vision and calling to become Houses of
Prayer (SA-HOP) – places where the fire of intercession never goes out and
where God makes himself at home according to Isaiah 56:7 “…my house will be
called a house of prayer for all nations”.
Lieutenant Xander Coleman, corps officer of the Banbury Salvation Army Prayer Beacon Corps (United Kingdom with the Republic of
Ireland Territory) shares how the corps has chosen to make prayer the major emphasis of its
community life and mission, becoming a house of prayer in and for the local
Passion for Prayer
During a period when the corps was without a commanding officer, they
came face-to-face with the need to rely on God’s provision, guidance and
vision. During this time they saw and received answers to prayers. On the back
of what God was doing through the Roots movement, a number of key individuals
in the corps caught a passion for seeking God through prayer. This manifested
in prayer becoming the heartbeat of the corps and developed into a focus for its mission
As this vision for prayer spread like contagion through the corps, it
was felt that such an emphasis should be recognised in a formal way. Taking the values of the Boiler Room model - prayer, creativity,
mercy, hospitality, mission and learning - and moulding it around the framework
of a traditional-shaped corps, the idea of a Prayer Beacon was developed. In
May of 2008 Banbury became the first Salvation Army Corps in the United Kingdom to become a Salvation Army Prayer Beacon
The Prayer Room
The need for a designated, ground floor prayer room (accessible to as
many people as possible) was immediately recognised.
Artistic and prayerful people within the corps fellowship gladly took on
the challenge of equipping the room. Prior to being used for the first time,
the room was already soaked in prayer. The displays change on a regular basis
as the Spirit guides. Initially many of the displays were teaching tools,
helping people to explore the various ways of praying (e.g. praying the Bible,
soaking prayer, lectio divina). The
displays also encourage opportunities for personal, interactive and
The room is a space where people can find peace and the opportunity to
sit quietly in God’s presence. Many people comment on the powerful presence of God they experience in
this room, and that the prayers offered there are almost tangible. The prayer room has also
encouraged many of the corps members to fellowship more regularly, and to
confidently offer to pray for and with visitors during the usual weekly
Answers to Prayer
The first amazing answer to prayer that the Prayer Beacon corps
experienced was God leading people to take responsibility for all the weekly
program activities and developing a more loving corps fellowship. Corps members
have undergone accelerated spiritual growth and a willingness to move out of
their comfort zones in order to allow God to change, grow and develop
priorities. Other experiences include witnessing spiritual and physical
healing, deliverance, souls being filled with the Holy Spirit and their
spiritual lives being revolutionised!
More recently the Lord has been leading the Banbury corps to ‘pray big
prayers’, exercising their faith to see God’s kingdom come in their community.
One of the key prayers over the last few years is for the return of prodigals –
those who have backslidden or left the fellowship. One-by-one, people have started to come
back to the corps, get saved, and become involved in the ministry of the corps.
Being a ‘Prayer Beacon’ is an ongoing journey – the corps is never
static. God continues to open new avenues of prayer and service, and show the Corps
members how passionate and effective prayer can be weaved through all of their
activities. The official designation as a ‘Prayer Beacon’ has helped the corps
members to own the ministry of prayer. Their vision is developing around their
impact not just in the local community, but as a resource for the local Church,
the Division and the Territory as a prayer centre. The whole building is a ‘house of prayer’,
not just the prayer room.
When asked about the corps’ vision for its community, Lt. Coleman
replied, “We want to see prayer bring together the body of Christ in Banbury,
to bring revival, to release the gifts, and to equip God’s servants for their
works of service. We want to see prayer drawing people into intimacy with God
and see the answers to our prayers celebrated together. Ultimately, I would love to see Banbury
Prayer Beacon praying non-stop: 24/7/365!
We’re still a long way off from that point, but we’re trusting God to give
us faith for greater things!”.
Their desire for the Army is that prayer would become as natural to
Salvationists as breathing - that around the world Salvationists would be awakened by the
very Spirit of God to the need for fervent, corporate and personal prayer. It
is also their prayer for more dedicated prayer centres to be birthed in the UK territory and around the world.
Not every corps is called to be a ‘Prayer Beacon’, but they are all
called to be praying corps. The best way
to learn to pray is simply by doing it.
Dream big, start small, and go deep.