The Fire at Notre Dame ~ A Prophetic Call to Worship

I was at work when I heard about the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15th. I quickly searched the internet to watch and read the headlines. It was a surprising detour in my workday.

The emotions that followed caught me off-guard me as tears started to well up around my eyes. I wanted to cry—to really cry—but I was at work. It didn’t make sense to me. Why would the fire at a historic landmark across the world have this sort of impact on me?

Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames, April 15, 2019. (Photo credit: mhznetworks.com)

It felt like a dagger to my heart as my mind was flooded with memories of my trip to France in 2014.

An Unexpected Missional Call

I was traveling alone on a church mission to Grenoble, France and then on to Madrid to spread the word about Celebrate Recovery, a biblical 12-step recovery program. My mission partner lived in Grenoble and invited me to share my testimony at his church there.

Notre Dame, the 14th century gothic cathedral in the heart of Paris, attracts 12 million visitors annually. September, 2014

As I made my travel arrangements to France, I sensed a prompting by the Holy Spirit to plan a layover in Paris. This wasn’t a typical layover though. I was given a prayer assignment at Notre Dame Cathedral in downtown Paris.

It seemed like a crazy idea—leave Charles De Gaulle Airport in the suburbs of Paris, attend Mass at Notre Dame and return to the airport for my next flight.

It WAS a crazy idea! I had to make sure it wasn’t MY crazy idea though. I prayed about it and followed where I felt led—to Notre Dame—accepting along the way that if God wanted me there, He was going to have to put all the pieces in place.

Not A Tourist at Notre-Dame

I ended up with a short layover in Paris—only 4 hours! It was against all odds, including an Air France strike, that I was placed at the facade of Notre Dame five minutes before Mass. Although it was noon in Paris, my internal clock was very much aware of the 9-hour time difference. To me it was 3 AM.

There were long lines of tourists waiting to get into Notre Dame. I snuck into the line and was relieved when no one questioned my cutting in. Once inside I quickly realized the line was for paid tours of the Cathedral. I was able to make my way beyond the tourist area into the roped off section of the church to attend Mass.

Relieved again and a bit disoriented, I tried to follow the service in French—which I had no knowledge of. I prayed silently—in English—and followed the lead of others in attendance—sitting, standing, kneeling and communion. After the Mass was over, I stayed to pray a while longer and thank God for bringing me to this place and time—in Notre Dame, by myself, on mission for God!! God’s ‘crazy’ and wonderous idea—definitely not mine!

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral while on mission for God, September 2014.

As much as I wanted to tour the Cathedral and especially to go to the roof and see the gargoyles, I didn’t have the time. I had instructions to rendezvous with Pierre, my non-English speaking cab driver and friend of my missionary partners, in 90 minutes outside the Cathedral.

With camera in hand, I quickly got a few photos inside Notre Dame and bought some religious souvenirs. My remaining time was spent taking in the sights around the outside of the Cathedral. My mind shifted back and forth between the excitement of being in Paris and trying to prayer-walk around the Cathedral—not an easy task with a sleep deprived body and jet lag setting in.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t even time for lunch at a Paris café. My time in Paris ended with a quick stop at the Eiffel Tower for a selfie—then off to catch a train to Grenoble. (I was thankful for the Air France strike because it worked in my favor to take the train instead, and extended my brief time in Paris.)

Prayers Going up in Smoke

In preparing for my prayer assignment at Notre Dame, I researched religious history in France. In light of the religious wars and the bloodshed in the name of Christ, the Holy Spirit’s prompting to pray in Notre Dame made sense to me.

He was calling me to pray at an icon of faith in a city that had lost its spiritual roots.

Paris was the site of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572, a religiously fueled Catholic mob violence targeted toward Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants). Over the centuries, the religious climate led to animosity being handed down from generation to generation between Catholics and Protestants in France and an apathy towards organized religion and God.

My prayer assignment was focused on a call to renewal and an awakening in the people of France—to return to Christ and His church. My prayers were for healing and unity in France.

Notre Dame engulfed in flames and smoke as the spire collapses, April 15, 2019. (Photo credit: Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP / Getty Images)

So in light of my call to pray at Notre Dame in 2014, when I saw the first news stories and videos of the Cathedral on fire, I had a dreadful sense that MY prayers were also going up in smoke too. This was the sadness that carried me back to my memories of Notre Dame. My heart was breaking because for me, Notre Dame was a symbol of hope for unity and revival for God’s people in France. It was a sacred place of worship.

Out of the Ashes

On Monday night, April 15th, the night of the blaze, the news reported that church officials, citizens and firefighters formed a human chain to save artwork and relics from the church. They rescued the Holy Crown (believed to be from the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head), a fragment of the Wood of the Cross (believed to be from the cross that Jesus was crucified on) and one of the nails (believed to be used by the Romans to crucify Christ).

When I went to bed that night, the Cathedral was still engulfed in flames. The 300-foot wooden spire atop the roof had already collapsed. It seemed like there was no hope for the survival of Notre Dame.

The next morning out of the ashes hope was restored: Notre Dame had survived the fire. Parts of the roof were destroyed, but the two bell towers and much of the interior structure and ceilings were spared. Pictures surfaced on the internet showing the survival of the altar, the crucifix, and the 18th century Pietà sculpture. The majestic rose window was also spared.

Inside Notre-Dame after the fire, April 16, 2019. (Photo credit: Christophe Petit Tesson / EPA / Shutterstock)

This was surely answered prayer to the countless people worldwide praying for the Cathedral to not be destroyed. Word came later that day from French President Emmanuel Macron that he would launch an international fundraising campaign to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral.

A Prophetic Call to Worship

I was relieved to hear that Notre Dame was spared. As I reflected on this tragic event and prayed, I was reminded of the downfall of the nations of Israel and Judah in Old Testament times. The split kingdoms were ruled by godly and ungodly kings since the end of Solomon’s rule in around 931 BC. The books of 1st and 2nd Kings and 1st and 2nd Chronicles are filled with the history of God’s chosen people and the downward spriral of godlessness.

2 Kings Chapters 22-23, describes King Josiah’s desperate attempt to turn the nation of Judah back to God. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” 2 Kings 22:2, NIV (David was not literally his father, but Josiah was from the lineage of King David.)

King Josiah found the Book of the Covenant and instituted sweeping reforms. He destroyed the pagan idols, altars, shrines, and even their priests. He led the nation of Judah back to the Lord averting disaster in his lifetime. But the sinfulness of Judah returned. Eventually Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the people were taken away in captivity to Babylon.

The fall of Jerusalem, 586 BC.

Fast forward over 2 centuries… Is history doomed to repeat itself or is God sending a prophetic message to the people of France (and our world in general)? Notre Dame has been spared. The people of France and His Church have a second chance to repent and return to Him. He is calling them to rebuild not only the physical church but to rebuild the spiritual church, the Body of Christ.

THAT is the answer to my prayer. It felt extremely profound and prophetic that this fire happened at Notre Dame, on holy ground where I prayed (and at the start of Holy Week). Notre Dame can once again become a true house of worship and not just a medieval monument. Out of the ashes His Church will be rebuilt.

Just like Old Testament times, and the prayers of King Josiah, God hears our prayers. Let’s pray for spiritual renewal to spread throughout France—healing the people and their land.

Parisians brought to their knees praying outside Notre Dame Cathedral, April 15, 2019. (Photo credit: Eric Feferberg / AFP / Getty Images)

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV

On Red Alert for the Spiritual Needs in France

My heart was heavy this morning as I awoke to more news about the awful terrorist attacks in Paris yesterday. As an American, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the attacks on our country on 9/11/2001.

Horrific.  Senseless.  Pure evil.

Pray for Paris

Where were you when…?

Will this be another day in history that we point to like 9/11 saying, “Where were you when you heard the news of the Friday the 13th Paris terrorist attacks?”

Late yesterday afternoon while waiting in the reception room for a chiropractic appointment, to pass the time I scanned Facebook on my cell phone. As seems to be more and more the case lately, that is where I hear of this sort of breaking news.

Friends were posting updates to pray for Paris. My attention quickly switched to the internet for the latest news, but was interrupted when I was called in to see my doctor for an adjustment followed by a well-deserved massage appointment.

Then late in the day my attention returned to the events across the world while watching a network news show dedicated to this topic. I’m not one to watch these sorts of shows, usually focused on sensational journalism and high profile events. However, this was different because I have a connection to Paris and France in general.

Paris police

My French Connection

Ever since my mission to France last fall, the people and this country have more meaning and significance to me and in my prayer life.

I was only in Paris for a few hours between connections while traveling to Grenoble, France where I stayed with my missionary partners and spoke at their church.

I could’ve bypassed Paris, made a shorter layover, etc. However, when I started booking my travel arrangements, I felt God press upon me to visit Notre Dame and to pray for the people of France.

There were many obstacles that I overcame to do that, including averting the Air France strike while traveling. Through God’s providence and against all physical odds, I arrived on the footsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral five minutes before the noon Mass.

I prayer-walked through the cathedral and through the streets of Paris that day. It was a spiritual high for me.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

After having such a spiritual experience in Paris last fall, the sense of darkness hit me again last night as I watched the scenes from Paris: images of people’s bodies lying in the streets covered with white sheets, police cordoning off and guarding areas like armed militia, and hearing eye witness accounts of what happened.

Before I arrived in Paris last fall, I researched the religious history of France. I was aghast at the religious wars that were fought in this country. It led to a huge divide in the country.

Even today there is still animosity and emotional wounds carried down through family generations between Catholics and Protestants in France. This has led to apathy for organized religion in general and a dramatic decline in church attendance.

The Ongoing Battle

Centuries ago, the blood of the martyrs was splattered throughout this country. Yesterday new blood was splattered on the streets of Paris—unsuspecting victims in a new battle.

My heart aches. In my mind I pray more fervently.

Centuries ago the Huguenots fought for their religious beliefs against the kings and queens of France. The battle lines were drawn. There were persecutions, forced conversions, and ostracisms from society.

Today Parisians, Americans, and people across the world are also caught up in an invisible battle for our souls. It is terrorist attacks like the one yesterday that remind us of the evil intentions of cowardly soldiers who secretly plot against our society.

Their tactic is fear. They are being misled by the biggest enemy we have.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44, NIV)

One of many memorial sites cropping up in Paris.

One of many memorial sites cropping up in Paris.

On Red Alert to Pray

As Christians, we are called to put on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Our strategy is to fight our battles in prayer first. Let’s not be misled by the lies of the Enemy.

It is the Blood of Jesus that overcomes the blood that is splattered across the land in countries across the world.

I am praying for the comfort of the families affected by these horrible crimes against humanity. Like a security alert system that sounds a loud signal of imminent danger, I am also on red alert to pray for God’s power to be poured out on the people of France, for a spiritual awakening and renewal of their Christian faith.

Let us all pray as we feel led for the spiritual and physical needs in France.

In times of tragedy, cry out to God. He will hear you.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalm 18:6, NIV)

He is listening now to our prayers and petitions for France.

To read about the Paris attacks from the perspective of my colleagues in France, click here.

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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