27 January 2024

The UKI Boiler Room: Time to ignite!

Major Gary Lacey

A photo of someone holding a match

Major Gary Lacey explains the inspiration behind the UKI Boiler Room.

Charles Spurgeon was a 19th-century Baptist preacher. He was pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London, later renamed the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which could hold 5,000 worshippers. On one occasion, a group of trainee preachers came to visit the church. 

They were shown around by the man himself just before the service began and, after he’d shown them the rapidly filling main sanctuary, he offered to show them his ‘boiler room’. Doubtless thinking they were being invited to some dusty, oily corner of the building, the guests declined, but Spurgeon led them to the basement, where they found about 100 people deep in prayer.

Spurgeon’s vibrant ministry saw many people touched and transformed by the power of God, and he always attributed it to the relentless prayers of this boiler room. 

When he preached in other churches, he would insist on a room also being set aside there for a boiler room, because he recognised that he couldn’t rely on human wisdom or his preaching techniques to bring people to God – only the Holy Spirit could do that.

The Apostle Paul said something similar in his first letter to the Corinthians: ‘My speech and my proclamation were made not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God’ (1 Corinthians 2:4 and 5 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition).

Trust is a vital element of prayer. We pray because we trust God, and because we have total faith in his power. God can and does change everything, even when he doesn’t answer prayer in the way that we envisage or want. And this is the inspiration behind the vision that God has given for the UKI Boiler Room, which we are launching this weekend.

For me, the vision started with a flashback. Before I became an officer, I was a senior surgical assistant and nurse manager in a major cardiothoracic centre in Liverpool, where part of my role was to assist in open-heart bypass surgery. I had to know the procedure inside out.

It involved stopping the heart so that the surgeon could work on it safely. The patient was attached to a perfusion machine, which performed the functions of the heart outside the body while it was being operated on. We would pour a jug of sterile, ice-cold water on the heart and it would stop immediately. When the intricate surgery was complete, we would restart the heart by applying an electric charge.

In my Holy Spirit flashback, I found myself back at the operating table during a bypass. I heard the Lord say that he was sending me to be a part of restarting the heart of prayer in this territory.

We want to see The Salvation Army’s mission heart beating its transformational rhythm in this world, but we really need a spiritual jolt – some spiritual voltage applied to the heart – as well as a framework to help the territory pray more effectively together. 

My wife, Dawn, and I have planted physical boiler rooms before – places where you can go to pray or be prayed with – but the UKI Boiler Room isn’t like that. It’s a corporate, active commitment to prayer that you can join in with wherever you are.

We will start with two key elements. A prayer rhythm – a heartbeat of united prayer. And furnaces – local prayer groups that commit to praying regularly for the mission of The Salvation Army.

My sense is that there has been a fear of prayer. We fear that God might do some ‘funny stuff’, or that we’re not eloquent enough, or that we have so much going on that we haven’t got time to pray. Paul put all his trust in God. He stepped over his fear and saw God do amazing things. 

I don’t think the opposite of fear is boldness or courage, although we do need those. I believe the opposite of fear is knowledge and understanding. When we get to a place of knowledge and understanding, we discover the truth, the living God, and we can join him in his life-changing work and mission.

To do this effectively, we need to step over the fears we have about prayer. It’s high time to restart the heart of prayer in our territory. It’s time to ignite the boiler room!

Written by

Captain Gary Lacey

Major Gary Lacey

Territorial Prayer Co-ordinator

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