prayer

My Prayer Pilgrimage and the Unfolding Canberra Declaration Prayer Story: History Belongs to the Intercessors

15 March 2024

6.9 MINS

The Canberra Declaration is set to launch into a new and increased season of prayer. But before we do, here’s a little history of what’s brought us to this point – including my journey.

I came to Christ when I was almost 16 through a Billy Graham crusade. Soon after, I joined the Baptist Church in Blackheath, where I became a youth leader in my mid-teens.

Beginning My Prayer Journey

At age 16, I began attending prayer meetings. There were many older people there who accepted me. And I appreciated them for that. But that was where I started to grow in prayer.

From the early days of my Christian walk I was involved in prayer, worship, and evangelism with a strong interest in politics to boot. In 1972 I came to the Lighthouse Church in Wollongong in a YWAM Summer of Service. I am still at the same church 52 years later. There is a saying that is true: “When you find a good thing, you stick to it.”

You cannot love Jesus and not love his body. We each have to find our place in the local expression of the body of Christ which is the Ecclesia of God.

I came across a book by Derek Prince in 1976 called Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting. I consider it one of the best, if not the best, books on prayer and fasting I have read. It has impacted me greatly. And for this, I am very grateful.

So it was that I began to fast. But after one day without food, I thought I was going to die! After three days without food, I really thought I was going to die!

The longest fast I have ever done in the seventies and eighties was seven days. And I’ve lived to tell the tale. So, yes, fasting is possible. But more than that, it’s pivotal to seeing God move in bigger ways.

During the mid to late 80s, I prayed a lot in the mountains above Wollongong. I asked God to send people to share the gospel. For God to send revival. I desperately wanted to see God move and people come to Christ.

Well, the response I received back was that I needed to become the answer to my own prayers!

This was the basis for my family heading out across Australia in 1990, playing music and sharing the love of Christ. I didn’t fully comprehend it then, but I had begun full-time Christian ministry. We travelled extensively throughout Australia performing in many Aboriginal communities, country towns, schools, pubs, jails and churches.

In the early nineties, I completed my first 21 days of prayer and fasting out in the bush near the Wollondilly River near the Wombeyan caves on the Southern Highlands. Over the next 15 years, we saw over 3,000 people come to Christ in Australia and in over 20 nations of the world.

Alison and I married in 1975 and we have five children and ten grandchildren and live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. We have been in full-time ministry for the last 34 years. I have worn many hats over the years including, singer/songwriter, preacher, musician, TV producer, author, crusade coordinator, CEO and prayer and worship leader.

Together with my family we recorded seven albums and produced many others. From 1996–1998 I worked with Indigenous Australians whilst coordinating the Praise Corroboree which was an annual event featuring 72 hours of continuous prayer and worship with reconciliation held in Parliament House in Canberra. We met with the Governor General and the Prime Minister of the day.

We ended up doing a lot in the prayer and worship space. We organized and taught in worship seminars and conferences all over Australia and the world. My deepest passion was always to worship God from the place of prayer. It is always interesting to see how this unfolds as we continue to launch out in faith to serve God.

Launching the Canberra Declaration and Starting Out in Prayer

On 20 November 2009, the Manhattan Declaration was released. A similar document came out of the UK called the Westminster 2010 Declaration, which was released a year later. Both of them focussed on faith, family, freedom and life. It was these other Declarations that formed the inspiration for the Canberra Declaration. Read the Canberra Declaration full story in our first book The Blessings of Almighty God.

Together Dr Graham McLennan, Bill Muehlenberg and I banded together and wrote the Canberra Declaration in 2010. We released it on Friday 23 July outside Parliament House in cooperation with many other faith leaders to support family, faith, life and freedom. The Canberra Declaration now has over 92,000 signees and hosts Australia’s largest Christian News site called the Daily Declaration.

Only two months later, a man I didn’t know contacted me. He said, “I think you guys need someone to help you. You need someone to act as your prayer coordinator.”

That man was David Rowsome. David Rowsome served voluntarily as Canberra Declaration’s first prayer coordinator. The saying, “We all stand on the shoulders of giants” is well-known. But it’s so thoroughly true about David and Marilyn Rowsome. Without David and Marilyn’s sacrificial work and particularly their passion for prayer, I don’t think we’d be where we are today.

prayer

David & Marilyn Rowsome, with Alison Marsh

The saying, “We all stand on the shoulders of giants” is well-known. But it’s so thoroughly true about David and Marilyn. Without David, I don’t think we’d be here.

Here’s David releasing his first video for the Canberra Declaration, calling on people to join and pray.

Referring to the time when Jesus received a small offering of five loaves and two fish, David uses this as an illustration of what God can do with our small offering of prayer. He says,

“And so it is with our prayers. We may feel we don’t have much time or that there are not many people who are praying. But God can take our small offering and multiply it beyond our wildest expectations.”

prayer

David & Marilyn Rowsome at the Prayer Pioneers Dinner

In short, we realised the Canberra Declaration would go nowhere without prayer. We also knew we needed to increase the focus of prayer on Australia as a nation. This led to Canberra Declaration launching the National Day of Prayer and Fasting (NDOPF) in 2011.

In 2011 I along with David Rowsome and other faith leaders who are passionate about prayer, helped establish the National Day of Prayer and Fasting. In early 2022 this ministry rebranded and became Australia Prays and is now a stand-alone ministry. I continue my ministry of prayer through the work of the Canberra Declaration.

Some memorable times of focused prayer are well worth mentioning. In 2018, we prayed and fasted for the drought to break. And in 2019, the drought was broken! In 2019 we prayed and fasted for a miracle result in the 2019 federal election. And indeed, in 2019 Scott Morrison, a Christian parliamentarian, was elected in the so-called miracle election as the Prime Minister.

Watch this blast from the past video below to encourage you in prayer.

When we pray, God works!

After that miracle, together with Ps Margaret Court, we organised a weekly day of prayer and fasting for our nation every Wednesday to pray for our Prime Minister and government and the issues of the day. This call to Pray for Australia is still operating today. Click here for more info.

Incredible Response to Prayer Survey in 2024

Fast-forwarding to today, we now have hundreds of people praying weekly on our Zoom prayer calls (and people pray with us even if they can’t make it on Zoom). We have targeted and focussed seasons of prayer where for 21 days or 31 days, we pray and fast for a breakthrough.

This raised the question: What should we focus our prayer on in 2024?

This led to the recent prayer survey. Now completed, the survey results are very encouraging, to say the least!

There was incredibly strong support that we must continue to pray. In the words of John Wesley, “God does nothing without prayer”!

There was also incredible support for Go Month in May, prayer for sexual purity in October, and praying for life (for the unborn) at the start of next year. These initiatives received at least 92% support from those who completed the survey. It’s quite staggering.

There will be other issues that come up that require our prayer. This is inevitable. And when they do, we will call for prayer and use our regular Zoom prayer calls to pray for those issues. We may even issue calls for prayer that extend beyond our regular meetings.

Please remember we will be praying and fasting for the USA from April 30 to 2 May 2024. We started this custom in 2013 praying and fasting for revival and transformation for America, and it continues to this day.

See another blast from the past below in our 2013 call to pray for the USA.

The Importance of Prayer

Walter Wink gave some blunt words about the importance of prayer. He said it well when he wrote,

“Intercessory prayer is spiritual defiance of what is in the way of what God has promised. Intercession visualizes an alternative future to the one apparently fated by the momentum of current forces.”

He goes on to say:

“Prayer infuses the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present. History belongs to the intercessors who believe the future into being.”

“Even a small number of people, firmly committed to the new inevitability on which they have fixed their imaginations, can decisively affect the shape the future takes.”

“These shapers of the future are the intercessors, who call out of the future the longed-for new present.”

Finally, he leaves us with these forceful words:

“History belongs to the intercessors, who believe the future into being. If this is so, then intercession, far from being an escape from action, is a means of focusing for action and of creating action.”

I love to see people pray. I love to pray. I’m excited to see people pray – but more importantly, God is excited when people pray.

In the words of Walter Wink, I look forward to creating action together with you through Canberra Declaration prayer in 2024 and beyond. History belongs to the intercessors!

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12 Comments

  1. Teri Kempe 15 March 2024 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    Amen and Amen. More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of [Lord Tennyson]. I remember my atheist father saying when I became a Christian: “Prayer is a crutch!” On his deathbed he prayed the sinner’s prayer and now is in heaven! Yes, prayer changes things!

    • Jim Twelves 15 March 2024 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      Warwick and Alison, your example is priceless! Thank you so much for this testimony of God’s grace and his almighty power. It has been such an honor to have met you and your family in 2002 and to have traveled (on ‘the way’) with you ever since.

    • Jim Twelves 15 March 2024 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Teri, my father in law prayed the sinner’s pray on his deathbed too! Prayer is changing history!

  2. Nicola Hutchinson 15 March 2024 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Jesus, God incarnate, taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” … i am learning that to be my guideline for intercessory prayer…helps me forget what I want in this age, and focus on seeing and hearing how His space is invading our space and making things new.

  3. Esther-Sarah Godfrey 16 March 2024 at 1:44 am - Reply

    Really appreciate ur ministry! Presently, reading a book ,Secrets of the Secret Pl. by Bob Sorge!Insightful nuggets of precious pearls!
    Heard a sermon from Square Times,( David Wilkerson’ s former church,New York.) Why birds don’t fall ,when they sleep….God designed them to bend their knees & their feet lock down… we too can as we enter our prayer chamber. ( our bedroom). Prayer changes things.period. Abundant blessings!!!

  4. Rod Lampard 16 March 2024 at 7:41 am - Reply

    I love the words attributed to Karl Barth: “Prayer is a revolt against the disorder of the world.”

    Equally as cool is old school – the sane variety of Civil Rights activists – John Perkins, who said, “prayer is preparation for action.”

    I think these words sum up your brilliant piece here on your own walk.

    Something I’ve come to release since stepping into the word of public writing in 2018, is that connections matter. Talent plays a part, but connections make the cogs turn.

    There is no greater, or more important way of connecting than by acting on God’s permission to connect with Him, though His connection to us, in, through, by, and with Jesus Christ.

    A few years back I’d been praying about writing, & God’s direction. Homeschooling is in its twilight years, and I was seeking direction – wanting to use my degree, & avoid going back into retail management. That year, you called on my birthday ((of all days) to introduce yourself, and ask about contributing to Dads 4 Kids.

    That provision, & answer to prayer teared me up. It wasn’t huge by the world’s standards, but to me it was huge to me.

    God had answered prayer. Not the way I would’ve expected, but nonetheless, answer He did.

    As you wrote above, ‘we don’t get anywhere without prayer.’

    To back you up with Thomas Aquinas: ‘our motive in praying is, we pray not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that, by our prayers, we may obtain [unlock] what God has appointed.’

    Amen.

  5. Anna Soh 16 March 2024 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Even before I knew I was called to pray I would experience God moving things in my life for my family and friends when I would pray. The occurrence of prayers answered increased when I joined prayer groups within churches and combined churches’ prayer groups.

    There was no mistaking to me as to how powerful prayer was to change the course of history even if it was just history within my experiences.

    I am so grateful to God for leading me to know you in the most extraordinary way and it was just confirmation of my call to be involved in prayer for my state and our nation.

    Thank you, Warwick, for this article and encouraging so many to understand the power of prayer.

  6. Stephen Lewin 16 March 2024 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    I remember being with intercessors as they prayed when I first begun to follow Christ as a young teenager. When they prayed the effect on people was tangible and was an experience that was teaching me as I joined with them in prayer that revealed to me that intense prayer impacted meetings to make them much more effective with greater worship , more anointed preaching teaching and also importantly the altar time at end of service so full of rape,nuance encounters with the Lord. thank you Warwick…you have been a part of the journey of Prayer revival and transformation at least 3 times in my wife and i spiritual journey ., namely when we were Pastoring in Wollongong 1997/8 and then the Praise Corroboree in Canberra, when Pastoring in Rural NSW when you and family would come, to minister on your travels, and now since last 6 years or do when doing zoom prayer, World Prayer Assembly etc etc. Thank you and Praise the Lorc, Warwick for your passion for Prayer Worship and Christian action, justice, evangelism, etc , and probably most of all corporate prayer and worship with view of 24 7 prayer and worship for Australia

  7. Warwick Marsh 18 March 2024 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Thank You, Jim, Esther-Mary, Rod, Stephen. Teri, Nicola, Anna & Stephen. Thank you for your kind words. I am greatly humbled by your encouragement! Prayer is the power of heaven.

  8. Will Mander 26 March 2024 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Just read this brother, what a beautiful testimony to the power of God in prayer. Onwards to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus!

  9. Warwick Marsh 27 March 2024 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much Will for your kind words!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Melissa Cook 13 June 2024 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Thank you Warwick for being faithful to the Lord & serving Him in this leadership role over the prayer group in Canberra. I came across you many, many years ago attending the National Day of prayer gatherings here in Sydney (when hubby & I were healthy enough to attend these big meetings). Sorry I could not tune into last nights celebration webinar but reading through this has encouraged me. I continue to pray regularly with my hubby & mum for Australia. I was able to tune into a friends day of pray for America (my friend is over in the US), & I got some wonderful feedback from them. God is sooo good. I praise Him & thank Him each day for His goodness.

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