The Miracle of Dunkirk and the Power of Intercession

Earlier this month we went to the new Lewes cinema, the Depot, which is a fine new building in which to see Dunkirk the movie. It is a dramatized chronicle of the battle, and it was very well portrayed.

May 1940 was a very dark day for the allies as they had been encircled by the German armies and were in danger of total destruction. In fact, there would have been a terrible defeat, apart from 3 incidents which allowed the army to be evacuated by a fleet of naval and little ships which managed to ferry over 338,000 men over the channel in a few days. The three miracles which occurred were Hitler’s order to halt the advance of the German army, a terrible storm over Flanders which prevented the bulk of the German air force taking off, and a flat, calm Channel. So, what caused The miracle of Dunkirk?  Certainly, the whole population of England was motivated to pray, from the King, downwards. However, the story goes deeper, and it started back in 1879, when a young boy was born in a Welsh mining village. The name of the boy was Rees Howells.

Rees was born into the time and place of the Welsh revival, and he had two deep spiritual experiences. One was when he was dying of cholera and he made a total commitment of his life to Jesus. The other was when he experienced the Holy Spirit, not just as an influence which came over the revival meetings, but as a real person, who with the Father and Son shared a deep emotional commitment to their created world. Rees began to actually feel the deep anguish and love which the Godhead felt for their deeply broken creation.

He lived out a life that was really in touch with God, and he slowly learnt the discipline of obedience to what God was saying to Him through the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. His power grew as an intercessor, first within his local community, then in a wider context in Christian ministry and healing. He went to South Africa, where, under his influence, there was a major spiritual revival.

On his return to this country he founded a Bible school in Wales. He initiated many projects, never asking for any money. He simply prayed to God who always provided the exact amount without any external requests. Very early in the rise of Hitler and his party in Germany, Rees saw him for what he was, an agent of evil and the enemy of the work of Christ all over the world.

Rees saw it as his job to pray and intercede, first of all for peace and, when war was declared, for a quick and peaceful conclusion. However, as events progressed, he saw he must uphold the Christian west and pray for the defeat of Hitler. So, he created a band of like-minded people in his Welsh bible school where they interceded right through the war for many hours of every day, including asking for God’s intervention at Dunkirk.

You can learn much more about his story by reading his biography by Norman Grubb. However, it comes with a warning: you might find it a very deep challenge to your own level of commitment to Christ. I certainly did.

What is Intercession?

Intercession is a form of intensified prayer, which is characterised by three things.

Firstly, an intercessor is deeply identified with the one who is prayed for; they have submerged all their own interests for the needs and suffering of the other.

Secondly, there are tears. Just as Christ wept over Jerusalem, so the intercessor shares the “groanings too deep for words” of the Spirit (Romans 8:26).

Thirdly, there is the gained place of intercession, an inner peace that God has heard and answered the desires of our hearts for that person or situation, and we can turn from intercession to praise and worship of our generous God.

Are you willing to spend time praying for our Church, town and country?

If you feel called to be an intercessor, do read the book. You can contact Letchmi Wall who organises Trinity’s monthly prayer gathering for people who intercede for the church, or Serena Smith who organises the monthly town wide Saturday prayer time.




Ian Hempshall