The Lord's Prayer




The walls were painted black and there were abstract hippy art forms plastered all over them. Peace signs were popular among the rebels of the sixties and seventies. So was pot.  The low lighting of the out-stretched room had most of the occupants in shadows.  The air was thick with the unmistakable sickly-sweet smell of marijuana.  The cups of coffee served were a front for what was really being sold, yet compared to the merchandise of today, it was relatively benign; addictive, but nowhere near as deadly. The "Ballpants" was a coffee-shop front for the drug trade, located in King's Cross, at that time Sydney's centre of drug abuse and prostitution. The long room, measuring possibly 4 metres wide by 20 metres deep, had seating for more than sixty people. It had a small podium at the far end.

The podium boasted a stool and a microphone, where anyone so inclined could make themselves heard. It was the practice for the hippies and druggies to get up to the microphone to make anti-political statements, or rip strips off other traditional institutions, or just sit with a guitar and sing their heart out.

When we started frequenting this venue on Wednesday nights to share the Gospel, initially the reaction was extreme caution.  Once they saw us come regularly, after much prayer during the healing service at St.Andrew's in the city, gradually we came to be accepted as a fixture not to be feared.  I wasn't there when this enterprise commenced, but I joined when I felt the Lord wanted me to.  I guess it was the convenience of the microphone that made me feel something substantial could be achieved here.

It wasn't long before I made use of my talents at the mike.  I started bringing my twenty dollar guitar and got up there to sing my Peter, Paul and Mary numbers and other songs with a message, and did what I had done, and was still doing, at Christian groups on the weekends, explaining the song's message most of them had missed.  "The times, they are a'changin'", "I've got a hammer", and "Where have all the flowers gone?" are just a few of the songs that appealed. One night, one of the hippies took me aside, to tell me, "Hey, we like your music, but we can't stand the way you dress!"  I had been coming from work, dressed in a suit and tie, at that time mandatory dress in the Public Service.  So I made it a habit from then on to bring jeans and a casual top to work on Wednesdays, so I could change at the church.

We painted Christian posters in bright and luminescent colours to hang on the walls, but after a couple of weeks the only one that remained was, "God is love".  In the era that made free-love a household name, I guess it was the one that appealed without imposing religious connotations.

Whenever I finished singing a song, I would point out how the message related to the Christian outlook on life. And those that weren't totally spaced out listened.  One day a guy called Brian, someone we had taken under our wing and paid special attention to, got up on that podium and blew us all away.  He sang "I've been redeemed, by the blood of the Lamb!" It wasn't that he had made a decision to change, but he finally confessed his Christian background, and was open enough to sing this song in front of his peers, a special gesture to tell us he was listening.

Another night I had been particularly fiery in making my point, and we spent hours afterwards discussing the concept of salvation with various people there.  When we finally left the premises, a man older than the average there (maybe in his forties) was waiting for us outside. He had been hanging back because he felt compelled to tell us: "Maybe the others weren't listening, but I was.  I wanted to tell you I am going home to my wife!"  It was great to have that kind of feedback, confirming that what we were doing was having an impact somewhere.

But the most mind-blowing night came one Wednesday when we could sense heavy  spiritual opposition as we entered. As we found seats, some guy who'd had enough of our preaching took centre stage and began to rip strips off Christianity, liberally sprinkling obscenities, expletives, and disparaging remarks at us, throughout his tirade. There were probably six of us, and some wanted to react by booing his negative comments. But they weren't the ones feeling compelled to respond.  I asked them to be silent and let him have his say, as I knew with absolute certainty that I would be up there next!

When he finished, I stood. And as I walked towards the podium, the entire room started booing and hissing.  On my left was a gang of Hell's Angels, all dressed in their club leathers. On my right, hippies sat, spaced out on grass. Bongs were everywhere.  The air seemed thick with spiritual opposition, making it physically difficult to put one foot in front of the other, and I had no idea what I would say when I reached that microphone.  The others in our group were praying furiously in support. I sat on the stool occupied minutes earlier by the other side. The booing and hissing reached a crescendo that not even the microphone could out-perform.  And I closed my eyes and asked the Lord what on earth I could do in this impossible situation.

I sat there for minutes, staring at unruly crowd, while the racket continued.  Then, in a flash I knew what He wanted me to do! I closed my eyes again, raised both my hands, and spoke into the mike: "Our Father, ..." I don't think I had even got all the way through that bit, when the entire room hushed. There wasn't a sound.  The power of the Holy Spirit silenced them all.  I continued, "... in heaven, hallowed be thy name!" I recited all of the Lord's prayer without interruption.  My face flushed and a chill ran up my spine, as I personally witnessed the power of God at work.

There was no more to be said.  Jesus had said it all for us. So I got off the stool and went back towards my friends, passing the Hell's Angels on my right. The leader reached out and grabbed my arm as I passed. I was half expecting him to blast me, but he said: "Gee, you've got guts!" Quite a compliment, coming from a Hell's Angel!  I sat down next to him and he confided that he had been a Sunday School teacher some years earlier! We ended up having a great discussion.



  • Jesus expects us to acknowledge Him in all circumstances
  • He will give us the words to say, if the situation demands it
  • Divine intervention in circumstances beyond our own resolution is a mind-blowing experience