In May 1940 the allied British, French and Belgian forces numbering some 350,000 troops were cut off and surrounded by the German Army. In a speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill described the events in France as ‘a colossal military disaster’. He advised Parliament that ‘the whole root and core and brain of the British Army’ had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured.
The situation was desperate and, while the British High Command strategized and planned a means for rescuing these troops, King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer. He himself attended a special prayer service at Westminster Abbey on Sunday 26 May. The Archbishop of Canterbury led prayers ‘for our soldiers in dire peril in France’. Up and down the country, and across the British Commonwealth, churches, chapels and synagogues were overcrowded as people turned out in vast numbers to offer up their own prayers.
As a result of those prayers three extraordinary events took place without which the rescue would have been impossible. Firstly for some unknown reason Hitler hesitated, and ordered his advancing armoured divisions to back off. Secondly the skies darkened and a furious storm in Flanders grounded the Luftwaffe. Thirdly a great calm descended on the English Channel which became like millpond. A vast flotilla of boats of all shapes and sizes, including many never designed for crossing the Channel, made their way to France and over the next few days rescued the vast majority of the troops.
The following Sunday the churches were filled once again as the King led a National Day of Thanksgiving for the miraculous rescue that had just taken place. Prayer changes things!
We may not be in a predicament of national peril of the magnitude as was seen 75 years ago, yet many people in our land face seemingly impossible circumstances on a daily basis and don’t know who to turn to. The last weekend in September has been designated as a National Weekend of Prayer and the churches in Hook are joining with hundreds of churches across the UK to pray. We are inviting you, the people in Hook, to let us know what you would like us to pray for on your behalf. You don’t have to be religious, you don’t have to belong to a church, and you don’t even have to give us your name! Simply hand your prayer request in to one of the three churches in Hook during the month of September and over the 3 days 25-27th September we will pray for your situation, confident that Prayer Changes Things.
This blog post featured in the September 2015 edition of Hook Focus