4 November 2023

Major Gary Lacey: ‘My mother used to pray all the time’

Simon Hope

An image shows a photo of Gary Lacey next to the words: Calling, connecting, releasing dynamic Kingdom-building prayer.

Territorial Prayer Co-ordinator Major Gary Lacey talks to Simon Hope about his vibrant prayer life.

Many people see prayer as a moment with God snatched from the busy claws of life – 30 seconds here or 5 minutes there – to meditate on Christ before the day drags them onward. When did you last pray?

Major Gary Lacey finds this is a tricky question. Not because he doesn’t pray, but quite the opposite. He never stops praying – almost literally!

‘If you don’t talk and listen to God, then you can’t be in relationship with him and experience all he has for you,’ Gary explains. ‘That’s the importance I place on prayer.’

His passion for constant consecrated conversation with Christ began with a master’s degree in Celtic mission, where he discovered how Celtic Christians prayed over the humdrum of everyday occurrences and brought God into every moment, even the seemingly mundane.

Following their example, Gary lives out 1 Thessalonians 5:17 by praying over everything, everywhere, all the time. Walk with me on my commute today. Help me make the right choices in my weekly shop. Speak through me as I talk to Simon Hope about my prayer life.

‘My prayer life in my early days as a Salvationist wasn’t really that brilliant,’ he admits. ‘It was limited to prayer times that were put on, prayer meetings, stuff like that. It was kind of mechanical, if you like.’

He admits that getting into a new way of praying was hard work in the beginning: ‘It took a good year of steadfast commitment to get into the swing of things.’

Now, it’s been more than a decade since he moved from simple religiosity to relationship with God, and his connection to the Almighty is flourishing. Of course, this doesn’t mean he’s forgone ritual prayer completely: he still dedicates moments of each day to specifically focusing on God. His personal rhythm includes half an hour of prayer first thing each morning to set himself up for the day.

Now, it’s perhaps unsurprising to hear that the territorial prayer co-ordinator moves through life in this bold way, but some would consider a lifestyle so thoroughly baptised in prayer to be an impossibility. Gary assures me it’s not and gives me two helpful tips for anyone who is passionate about putting God in the passenger seat of their inner monologue:

‘The first thing is to make the choice,’ he asserts. ‘With me, I was unhappy with where my prayer life was – it wasn’t very fulfilling, and I knew I could go deeper with God. I wanted him to become everything that the Bible says: my friend, my Saviour, my King. To see those things, I had to work at it, so I started by making the choice.’

The choice to do what, you ask? Well, that’s the second tip.

‘Just start speaking to him,’ Gary continues. ‘All the time, in every area of your life, practise doing it. Whatever happens, just speak to God. It’s amazing how it strengthens you as a person and in your relationship with Christ.

‘Those are my two tips: first, make the choice; second, practise. You should also build in a structure. Like I say, I pray in the mornings to start the day. Make sure you have a structure and then decide to take that out into the world!’

Is a deeper relationship with God really worth such dedication and effort?

If your answer is ‘Yes!’, be assured you’re not alone. The Territorial Prayer Network exists to unite people from across the territory in upholding each other and building a structure of intercession. It’s a thriving community of Salvationists and friends, and there are big plans for new things on the horizon. Namely, a territorial boiler room.

In the context of prayer, boiler rooms are collections of people set aside to pray fervently towards a goal. The idea came about in the 19th century, when steam was the source of all power, and it conjures an image of prayer as the energy source of all mission.

‘We’re going to facilitate the territory by setting a prayer rhythm,’ Gary says excitedly. ‘This will help us pray more specifically for the mission of the UK and Ireland Territory – because without prayer there is no mission.

‘At the same time, we’re releasing corps, centres and Army groups to build mini boiler rooms – called furnaces – to deal with local prayer needs. People who are into prayer can build a furnace and then link with us. We’ve worked hard this year to shape this up, and we’re launching it at the Encounter Prayer Gathering in January 2024, so that’s really exciting.

‘I’d love to see new faces join the Territorial Prayer Network. I think of my mother, who wasn’t connected into a wider network but used to pray all the time. I think it’s great to connect prayers all over the territory, so they’ve got support and feel part of something bigger.’

Just imagine where the Army could be in 10 years’ time if prayer became a central engine driving its mission. How many stories of spiritual growth and lives transformed would we be telling?

‘This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us’ (1 John 5:14). But, as Gary reminds me, it’s up to each one of us to step out in prayer.

Keep up to date with the prayer network

Written by

A photo of Stevie Hope.

Simon Hope

Editorial Assistant

Encounter Prayer Gathering

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