Small is Beautiful

GOHOP is coming up to it’s 10 year anniversary on October 15.  Happy Birthday, us!

When the vision for the House of Prayer began to roll out a decade ago I felt very inadequate and overwhelmed.  The only model of House of Prayer that I had to look at was IHOP down in Kansas City, which at that time had hundreds of prayer missionaries (thousands now!), their own facility, and were managing to pull off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week worship and prayer.  The only model of House of Prayer Director I had to look at was Mike Bickle, and let me tell you, Mike I ain’t!  Though the call was clear, the task felt daunting.

“Lord, how am I going to build a House of Prayer?”  I fretted.

“One person at a time.” was His response.

And it’s been just that.  One by one, people have come, embraced the lifestyle, and been molded into Houses of Prayer, living breathing tabernacles of His Presence.  Many of them have “graduated” from GOHOP to start ministries or to step into significant leadership roles.

Have we built a big impressive organization?

No.

And we’re in good company.  Historically, the majority of monasteries were small gatherings of men and women who set themselves apart to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer, learning, hospitality, creativity, mission, mercy and justice.   As they lived out that ethos they became living letters from the heart of the Father.  Unimpressive at first glance, but their influence has preserved and shaped culture over the centuries.  For a great book about this, I recommend “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill.

I get calls and emails from folks who want to come out and see what the House of Prayer looks like.  “Well, it’s really not all that much to look at,” I caution.  “We’re just a bunch of folks who hang out and pray together.”  It feels like we are like the little mustard seed in the gospels.  Very small.  Insignificant really.  But somehow, by the grace of God, many people, and even many leaders, have been able to rest in our branches over the years, and continue to do so.

Small is beautiful.

Interruption or Gracious Invitation?

Can you imagine if Jesus had a Blackberry?

I can just picture the scene.  Blind Bartimaeus shouting by the side of the road, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus pauses.

And whips out his Blackberry, “Well, let’s take a look.  I think I can fit you in….Tuesday at 2…no, I’m doing loaves and fishes that afternoon.  Hmm, what about Wednesday at 9:15?”

When I read the gospels I am amazed to see how full of interruptions they are.  Poor Jesus doesn’t do more than step out the door in the morning, and he is beleaguered by the hostile, the sick, and the curious.

I would have been totally exasperated by it.  “C’mon everybody – can’t you see we’re on our way to Jerusalem?  Let’s get going already!”

And yet Jesus wasn’t.  I believe He understood that what seemed to be interruptions were really gracious invitations from His Father. “My food and drink is to do the will of the One who send me.”

He illustrates this in the Parable of the Great Banquet.  The Father lays a table, and invites us to come.  But we are too busy, too pre-occupied.  We knew the banquet was coming, but we neglected to put it in our daytimers.

I can remember what I call The Great Interruption.  Rewind twelve years.  I had been on staff with a local church for about six years, learning to manage various departments, looking forward to getting ordained and launching as a church planter.  Very innocently, I visited some meetings down at Little Trinity Church in Toronto, where some crazy musician/prayer folks were visiting from the House of Prayer in Kansas City.  I remember sitting in the back of the church, stunned, stirred and shaken, knowing I had been interrupted and that my life was going to detour onto a road that I hadn’t even known existed.  Everything in my life since then has flowed down from that watershed experience.

If you want to hear more about divine interruptions and gracious invitations, I would invite you to have a listen to my teaching on the topic.

Interruption or Gracious Invitation

He is setting a table before us.  Will we come and eat, and taste of His goodness?

Where Do You Get Those Crazy Ideas and National Prayer Conference Coming to Hamilton Oct. 13 – 15!

A few folks have asked me where I got the idea of having a prayer truck.  Who would think of something so crazy wonderful and out of the box?  The answer is, my friend Daria Nordozza.

Daria is part of the National Leadership team of 24/7 Prayer.ca.  She has a passion for praying for cities.  You can read her article on how to pray for cities on the international 24/7 prayer website www.24-7prayer.com.  You can also see a bunch of videos she took on a wild cross country tour this summer across the nation, visiting multiple cities and finding out how we can pray for them on the www.24-7prayer.ca website.

And the person who inspired me to set up the prayer truck in a back alley in an urban/high crime area is my friend Aaron White

Aaron runs the 614 Community out in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver and is doing some fantastic and super uber challenging incarnational community and prayer work in that neighborhood.  Check out his latest prayer initiative here and find out how they are coming alongside their community on the most difficult day of the month.

You can meet Aaron, Daria, and the rest of my 24/7 partners in crime at our National 24/7 Gathering which is happening….wait for it…. in HAMILTON!  Woot!  Here is an excerpt from an article by Chris Jones, who heads up our 24/7 Canada team.

“Hamilton is sparking!

For years, there has been something going on in this city. It is a little rough around the edges admittedly, but it brings out passion in people like few cities I’ve been to. It is undeniably a city of refuge and there is a connection among God’s people there that is unique. It isn’t perfect, there’s lots of disunity too – but it feels like there is a something special going on in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. In fact the whole area right out to Brantford is kind of…I don’t know…buzzing I guess! So, we figured, let’s go where it’s going on! There is a fledgling 24-7 community beginning in the downtown core and the city has a long history of prayer with several churches operating prayer rooms in rhythms. Pretty exciting and we want to be there.

So – we’re setting up an impromptu gathering – October 13,14,15, a little over a month, we’ll be gathering in Hamilton right on one of its main streets. We’ve named the gathering REJUVENATE – longing to see restoration and the energy of youth breathed into the city and ourselves. We’ve invited a great friend to the movement – Richard Long from Together Canada to speak to us on rejuvenating the call to pray for the city. Aaron White from the 614 Salvation Army in Vancouver and The War College, a key influencer within 24-7 for over a decade will be delving into rejuvenating our community and the incarnation of our prayer in our communities, and I’ll be sharing on rejuvenating the call to prayer individually.

We’d love you to come, come and encourage and be encouraged. To register you can go to www.24-7prayer.ca and click on the link. There are a limited number of billet spots and lots of other places to stay in the city. You can arrive by plane to Toronto and take a bus out to Hamilton, or there is an airport in Hamilton and you can fly right in! So come join us and let’s fan this fire!

For ongoing schedule and information visit 24-7prayer.ca”

It’s My Prayer Truck!

The phone rings.  “Hi Jill, Sara’s here at Living Rock, wanting to know when the prayer truck opens.”

It was 9 am.

I laugh.  “Tell her she’s early!  We’re opening at 8 pm tonight.”

Sara had been joining us for our weekly Wednesday prayer meetings at the Rock.  She didn’t like to pray out loud, but was hungry for community and loved the worship.

7:30 pm, the first night, Sara showed up.  Due to mobility challenges, she wasn’t able to climb into the truck, but that didn’t prevent her from planting herself in one of the folding chairs in front of it.  Day in and day out, Sara sat by the truck.  At 10 pm each night, I sent her back to her group home.  “It’s the rules, Sara.  No women alone out here at night!”  When I realized that she was going to be a permanent fixture, I decided to put her to work.

“You see those people walking by?” I pointed.  “Let’s pray for them.  And those people in scooters?” (Hamilton, in my opinion, is the scooter capital of Canada – though some would argue that Brantford is). “Let’s pray that God heals them so they don’t need their scooters anymore.  And see that parking lot?  Let’s pray that no-one’s car gets broken into.”

She caught on right away.  When I arrived the next day, she exclaimed, “I’m a prayer warrior!  I prayed over all those cars in the parking lot!  I love the prayer truck!  It’s MY prayer truck!”

Sara wasn’t the only one who claimed the truck as her own.  Halfway through the second week, two teen girls, heavily tattooed and pierced, visited us.  They carried a picture of one of their friends who had just died.  “We just knew we had to come to the truck and pray – we’ve got to get some good energy being released.”  We glued the picture of their friend on the wall, and they wrote loving memories and prayers around it.  Over the rest of the week, there was a small but steady stream of youth who came to grieve and pray – youth who would never consider going to a church.  They knew we were here, and they chose the truck as their sanctuary.  It was their prayer truck.

The first week, the Hamilton Spectator did an article on what we were doing.  The lead line was “Hamilton has a cupcake truck, a grilled cheese truck, and now a prayer truck.”  It had a prophetic ring to it.

The truck is shut down now, and I’m grieving.

The issue is sustainability.  We’re tired and there are simply not enough of us at this juncture to man the truck full time.  We were using a borrowed truck, and a borrowed parking spot.  Plus, in our Canadian climate, an outdoor prayer room loses some of its glam when the temperature dips.

Several times over the last two weeks, I exclaimed to friends and passers by. “I’m ruined!  I never want to pray inside again!”

I am.  And I don’t.  A ministry mentor of mine once said to me “put yourself in the path of oncoming grace.”  We did that in the last two weeks of praying on the streets of Hamilton.  But when grace knocks you down and bowls you over, how do you pick yourself up again and resume the journey you were on before?  Or should you?

What does an Urban Monastery that is attractive and accessible to those on the margins look like?  These last couple of weeks, it looked like a Uhaul.  Please pray for us as we reflect on what God has done in our midst, assimilate our new learning, and seek the Lord as to how to move forward.