Prayer as Mission at the Living Rock

As we prayed around the circle, my eyes were drawn to the heavily pierced teen who sat on the edge of our group, knees drawn to her chest. Her turn came, and wanting her to feel comfortable, I said, “you don’t have to pray out loud if you don’t want to.”

“I’ve never done this before, but no, I’m gonna do it!” She exclaimed. And then proceeded to share one of the most heartfelt, vulnerable, and impassioned prayers I’ve heard in a long time. A holy silence followed, as none of us felt like we could speak into the sacred space she created.

As couple years ago, we at GOHOP wanted to find some kind of Missional/service expression as part of our rhythms of breathing in (prayer), and breathing out (being part of the answers to our prayers). Because there are already many fine organizations in the city engaged in mission, it made more sense for us to partner with one of them, rather than start something on our own. So we approached the Living Rock, an organization that provides services to at risk youth in our city, and asked them, ‘how can we serve you?’

‘Prayer!’ Was their answer. We were expecting to wash dishes or stack chairs, but quickly realized that our unique contribution (prayer) was the best way we could serve alongside the Rock in mission.

Consequently, for several years now, a team from GOHOP shows up Wednesday at the Rock at 11:30. We do pre-service prayer for their weekly worship Gathering. We participate in the Gathering, sometimes leading worship or teaching. And them after the Gathering is over, we hang out with the youth and staff, and see if any of them need prayer. Then, from 2-3, we retire into their prayer room and spend an hour in worship and intercession for the Rock and youth in the city, often with Rock youth or alumni (they age out of the programs at 26) participating.

And of course, in the summer, we park the Prayer Truck behind the Rock and spend several weeks praying for and with the kids outside.

It’s my conviction that longevity in front line service to the marginalized needs to be fuelled by a rich prayer life. This last weekend the Rock celebrated 28 years of service in the city, and we are grateful for the privilege of (prayer)walking together some of those years with them.
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Prayer and Mission

One of the distinctives of the 24-7 Prayer movement that have made so much sense for us here in our inner city context of Hamilton is the synergy of prayer and mission. As we’ve taken prayer out of the prayer room and Into the alleys of our city, we have encountered Jesus in surprising and enlivening ways.

And I’m happy to say that 24-7 Prayer is in the middle of releasing a video series called Prayer and Mission.

Brian is a great champion for prayer and missions. He led a prayer missions team for seven years on Ibiza, Spain, reaching out in clubs and on the streets to party-goers from across Europe.

Have a look at the first two videos:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gbNiQuSWnRE

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U8xdGcZ6tPI

The rest of them will be rolling out this week, so I would encourage you to tune in and allow God to attune your heart to His mission in the world.

Strangers at my Door By Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove

Yesterday I read “Strangers at my Door”, by Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove.

The whole book.

In one day.

It was just too good to put down. I knew it was coming, and had pre-ordered it prior to its release, and eagerly awaited it’s arrival. It did not disappoint.

I love Jonathan’s writing, and his commitment to being a practitioner rather than a theorist. Jonathan founded Rutba House, an intentional community that creates home and family for homeless people. He lives the message, and tells the stories.

Here’s Jonathan’s story in his own words.

And here are a couple teasers, but really, anyone interested in intentional community, radical hospitality, and incarnating the love of Jesus should read it.

Something deep in each of us cries out against the injustice of poverty and homelessness, of prison and addiction. The repulsion is visceral when we confront any one of these realities not as an issue but as the pain in the heart of a friend’s life.

You are learning that Jesus is risen and he’s coming again. he’s coming for supper tonight, and he’s not alone…he’s standing at your door with someone whose name you don’t yet know. They are sitting now at your dinner table-a peculiar family, for sure – ready to pass the butter and tell you a story about what happened today….heaven is a banquet! You know not only because John saw it two thousand years ago but also because you see it at your dinner table.

I’m done reading, and you can come borrow it if you wish, but you will have to stay for dinner…

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Pilgrimage reflections: The Scarf of Awesomeness

Yesterday I was chatting with my mum on the phone, catching up after my having been away so long.

“Whatever happened to the scarf?!!” She demanded. “My friends and I want to know!”

On the last day of the 24-7 Prayer gathering in Dublin, they auctioned off my scarf, along with several others from around the world. The proceeds went towards the work of a 24-7 Prayer community in Jordan that was working in Syrian refugee camps. When it came time for my scarf to be auctioned, I was extremely nervous. What if no one bidded on it? I had been working on it for hours and hours throughout the pilgrimage, and I felt like a mamma whose baby was being sold to the highest bidder. Which might end up being 10 Euros or so.

Imagine my shock when the scarf was sold for 750 Euros! That’s over $1000!

And then the man who purchased it gave it back to me as a present….

I ended up re-felting everything on a smaller scarf, so I could turn it into a wall hanging, as a momento of my pilgrimage.

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Pilgrimage Reflections: Rhythms of Prayer

People have been asking me to post more reflections on my pilgrimage, so here ya go! I’m going to include my more recent pilgrimage to Mount Saviour Benedictine monastery last weekend.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about visiting various monastic communities was participating in their prayer rhythms. It’s one thing to make room in our own heart and life for prayer. It’s something entirely different to enter into the flow of the rhythms of another community.

When we were at the Stanford Boiler Room, the community gathered each evening for an hour to pray. It was a teeny prayer room, but one night we got 14 people all jammed into it! Also, as guests in the community house, we were expected to pray an additional hour a day in the on site prayer room, on our own.

At the Northumbria Community, creators of the Celtic Book of Common Prayer, they gathered to pray four times a day. 9 am, noon, 5:30 pm and 9 pm. Ten minutes before prayer, a bell would toll, and everyone would gather silently in the common lounge for prayer.

More recently at Mount Saviour, the Benedictine monks gather seven times a day for prayer. The first being at 4:45 in the morning! During those times they sing the psalms and prayer. Benedictines work their way through the entire book of Psalms once every two weeks!

I love he tolling of the bell.

The gathering in silence.

The centrality of the Word to their prayer times.

Upon our return, my travelling buddies, Peter and Sandy, decided to instigate the Northumbria Rhythm of Prayer at their home. Four times a day they ring a bell, set aside whatever they were doing, and gather to pray.

I’ve been wanting to try it at our Intentional Community House, so have been chatting with my housemates about starting evening prayers, which monastic type folks call compline. So we’ve decided to give it a go, starting tonight. We are going to try different prayer resources to see which fits us best. The Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals has a compline section, as does the Celtic Book of Daily Prayer. We are also going to try an ancient form of prayer popularized by Ignatius of Loyola, called the Prayer of Examen. And if we want to just keep it simple, we might read a psalm and pray for people we have met or needs we have been made aware of throughout the day.

We’ve also invited a couple near neighbours, including the local MoveIn patch to join us.

I really love the idea of actually re-ordering your day around rhythms of prayer, rather than just adding prayer as a tag on whenever you can fit it in. And I love the idea of a community committed to rhythms of prayer that can create a welcome space for others coming to join them. Prayer and hospitality mashed up together in lovely ways.

Here are some pics of the prayer spaces at Northumbria, Stanford, and Mount saviour. I think I’m gonna go out and buy a bell…..

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Invitation to Solitude and Silence

Yesterday we launched a group

that will be talking about silence.

And studying solitude together.

I love the irony of it.

The reality is, however, as we set our hearts on pilgrimage and embark into new spiritual territory, it is helpful to have trusted guides and faithful companions.

Ruth Haley Barton is such a guide.

I stumbled across her books (well, our internship Director, Peter, thrust the books on me, saying ‘you’ve got to read these!’) about a year ago. Rooted in a solid orthodoxy and deeply rooted in God through her spiritual practices, her writing is soulful and substantial. She is a practitioner, not a theorist and observer. I also find her to be a great ‘bridge building’ author, whose works resonate as strongly with evangelicals as they do charismatics and contemplatives.

Her book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, takes the reader on a journey through the story of Elijah. Here are some excerpts from the first chapter:

“Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear. (advice from her spiritual director)

Solitude and Silence are not self indulgent exercises for times when an overcrowded soul needs a little time to itself. Rather they are concrete ways of opening to the presence of God beyond human effort and beyond the human constructs that cannot fully contain the Divine.

I needed to let the twin engines of desperation and desire lift me out of my stuck places into the realm where the spiritual life happens at God’s initiative rather than the pushing and forcing that often characterizes my effort.

The group members read a chapter from the book at home, and spend the week practicing the spiritual exercises Ruth suggests at the end of each chapter. Then we gather Monday mornings at 10 at the Vine, sit in silence together for a bit, and then practice deep listening to one another as we share how God has revealed Himself to us during the week. The book is $20 but there is no cost for the group, if anyone would like to join us! Its not too late, and there are two more spots available.

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You’re a What????

After what seemed like an interminable wait in the customs line back across the border, we finally handed our passports to the customs agent.

“So where were you?” He asked Peter.

“We were at a weekend retreat.”

“What kind of retreat?”

“A retreat for Oblates.”

“A what????”

“It’s kinda like a monk, only you can be married. My wife’s ok with it.”

“A married monk?” He shook his head, and then turned to me. “So what do you do?”

“I’m a Protestant monk. Part of a Protestant monastic community.”

“You’re a what??? What do you do?”

“We pray, and we work with the urban poor. There’s lots of them in Hamilton.”

He was obviously still perplexed, but eventually waved us through. We cracked up when we realized that as we pulled the car away, he made the sign of the cross, blessing our passage into Canada.

Here we are with our new Benedictine friend Justin… Kirk wore his hoodie so they could both be monks in the hoods…

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