I can remember the first time I saw the “Harp & Bowl Model” of intercessory worship. A team had come up from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOP) and was demonstrating this dynamic fusion of worship and prayer at Little Trinity Anglican Church in Toronto. As the ancient beams of the church quivered with the decibel level, everything inside me started to resonate as I realized that I could sing my prayers! I could sing the Scriptures! Prayer, which had seemed inaccessible and arduous, could be enjoyable! Imagine that!
We love the Spiritual DNA from IHOP (www.ihop.org). It provided me, a worship leader, with on-ramps into enjoyable prayer, which eventually led me to an on-ramp into full time prayer missions. The Greater Ontario House of Prayer was founded ten years ago, and fashioned itself around IHOP structures, models of ministry, and corporate culture.
But, after a while, like most Houses of Prayer in Canada we began to feel frustrated and discouraged. We couldn’t cobble together more than a handful of musicians needed for Harp & Bowl, let alone the hundreds of staff required to fuel ongoing 24/7 worship and prayer. While local intercessors were glad to gather for prayer events, it was extremely difficult to find those who would give themselves to the “fasted lifestyle” – a life radically re-ordered towards prayer, fasting and simplicity. We loved gathering Charismatic Christians, who were naturally drawn to the IHOP model, but longed to see a fuller representation of the Body engaging in prayer for the city. We wanted to see everyone praying more, and weren’t sure how to accomplish it. Ministering to the Lord in the prayer room was exciting, but we found ourselves wanting to engage more in mission and justice, putting feet to our prayers.
Interestingly enough, IHOP Kansas City was not the only global 24/7 prayer movement to birth in the fall of 1999. The same September, a group of young adults in Chichester, England, started a 24-7 prayer meeting that rapidly evolved into a global night and day prayer movement, based around the internet hub www.24-7prayer.com. It carried it’s own unique DNA with a particular emphasis on prayer, learning and discipleship, hospitality, creativity and the arts, mission, mercy and justice (for a fuller understanding, check out the “Boiler Room Rule” here).
A few years ago we began to do some genetic engineering, fusing the two DNA’s. Here is what it looks like this week (it is always changing and developing):
Last Sunday night we began a week of 24/7 prayer for the village of Waterdown, a small community north of Hamilton. In a facility loaned to us by Youth Unlimited, we set up a House of Prayer – a sacred space in the middle of the village where we could all gather. Local churches developed creative prayer stations to facilitate prayer for local families, including a prayer station for parents, for those dealing with addiction, and for those wrestling with identity/purpose issues. There is canvas on the floor so that people can “draw” their prayers, and there are instruments set up in a corner for the musically inclined.
The first two hours of the week of 24/7, we gathered a group of folks from the Charismatic stream for a “Gathering of Eagles.” For two hours they prayed and prophesied over the community of Waterdown. We recorded the session, will pull out the main themes and present a report to all of the pastors in the community. Just at the end of that two hour session, another participant, someone from the Contemplative stream, entered in and led us all in a contemplative prayer exercise. It turned into an exercise in hilarity as he inadvertently, every time he opened his mouth, brought confirmation to all the main themes we had discerned through our listening prayer time.
For the rest of the week, individuals in Waterdown can visit the location any time, night and day, and pray for the community. We have several one hour time slots allocated for Contemplative prayer, facilitated by a Benedictine novice from Hamilton. Several one hour slots are also allocated for “Harp & Bowl” worship and prayer, where those from the Charismatic stream will gather to sing the scriptures and sing their prayers. Three hours each day have been set aside for prayer for families, where people from the community can walk in off the street and be prayed for by trained teams. At the end of the week, we are having a Community Celebration, where the churches in Waterdown will gather together to worship and pray for the village. This week will provide all kinds of on-ramps for those of various traditions to come and pray, and pray together.
In addition, this Thursday we are having a Community Dinner, where we are gathering some leaders from different churches together to build relationship and to study some 24-7prayer.com materials on Christ Centred Community. The whole week is a lovely fusion of the spiritual DNA of both prayer movements. With our “genetic engineering” we are finding ways and whys of doing things that are a better fit for us and for our community.