A Christian 'prayer wall' is being designed as a major British landmark, built out of a million bricks – each representing a prayer said to have been answered by Jesus.
Five designs were short-listed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) yesterday at an event in Parliament.
The idea was the brainchild of a former chaplain at Leicester City football club, Richard Gamble, who is a member of the evangelical Living Rock Church. He said that the idea came to him 13 years ago after he carried a cross on his back across Leicestershire.
The five designs, which were presented in Parliament yesterday, were selected after a competition was launched last September in conjunction with the RIBA.
Some 134 entries from 24 countries were received and following two judging panels, the entries were whittled down to four plus the winner of a public vote.
Now, a million people are being invited to pay £10 towards a brick and tell a story about their experience.
Organisers estimate that the 'wall' could be the size of 100 houses, which is three times the size of the Angel of North. The aim of the project is to see this iconic structure built by the side of a motorway, so many passing drivers can see it.
The short-listed architects are from Southampton, Bath, Denmark, Gloucestershire and Italy.
The Wall of Answered Prayer is encouraging those who have prayed to Jesus and believe their prayer was answered to share their story on www.thewall.org.uk.
For each brick built in the wall, a brick will also be donated for social housing both in the UK and abroad, and any excess funds from the project will be donated to charity.
It is expected that The Wall of Answered Prayer will bring significant economic benefit to the locality where it is built. It is estimated that The Angel of the North in Gateshead has generated more than £500m to the area to date.
Gamble said: "After 13 years of waiting, it's now exciting to see what the concept design of this National Prayer Landmark might be and the way in which the brief has been interpreted. I believe seeing something of the design will enable those who wish to contribute to the project what it could look like. We are now gathering significant momentum and now we press on to locate and finalise the site."
The Christian Labour MP Stephen Timms, one of the judges, added: "As judges, meeting at the Royal Institute of British Architects last November, we had a tough job whittling down the entries. I am particularly pleased to welcome finalists from Denmark and Italy, as well as from the UK. The team will now be encouraging people to contribute experiences of answered prayer to go on the bricks. Those who do contribute will know that this new national landmark will look like one of the designs we unveiled today."
An announcement around the preferred site is expected in the summer of 2017.
Examples of answered prayers include that of Samuel, who wrote: "When we were told we wouldn't be able to have any more children after our first, we were devastated but knew God would work it for good. He told me that we would have more but living through the heartbreak of waiting to see the coming of this promise was a challenge to us both and took us to a new level of faith. Within a short period of time of someone else giving us a word from God about our future family, we fell pregnant without needing any of the medical treatment we had been told was our only hope and went on to complete our family with a total of four beautiful children. Jesus is our only hope!"
Jennie wrote: "My elder daughter had a great fear of being lonely and had experienced loneliness in her life. I prayed that she would find a husband and happiness and be able to have a baby as she had also had various health issues. Jesus answered my prayer with knobs on! She is married to a very lovely man and they laugh a lot together. She has just, with no trouble at all, had a beautiful baby girl. Jesus is my source and my life is NEVER lacking. I am so thankful to Him."
And Karl wrote: "Up till January 2006 I was registered with Sutton Eye Hospital who were tracking the condition of my eyes towards blindness. A single prayer in the previous October...by a sceptical believer was answered and I was signed off – all signs of the disease, gone. Thank you Jesus."