I was asked by 24-7 Prayer – what was one of my favourite spiritual practices? “Journalling,” I said. I’ve kept journals since I was 13 years old, and journalling is still one of my primary means of meeting with God.
I don’t like book reviews that assess and evaluate. I’m not well read or intelligent enough to cast judgement on other authors. Plus, I always assume when I read a book that there will be things that I agree with, and things I don’t. And I learn just as much from my moments of resistance as I do my moments of resonance. If I’m resistant to something in a book, it’s quite conceivable the problem is ME, not the book.
That being said, the thing I like mainly about Hartl’s book “Simply Pray” is Hartl. Poet, philosopher and foodie, Johannes is the Director of Gebetshaus – the House of Prayer in Augsburg, Germany. Johannes is a fresh voice and perspective in the House of Prayer conversation. He’s got waaaaaaaay more brain cells than I have (and uses them!) but his genius lies not so much in his wide breadth of understanding around all manner of topics, but in his ability to make the complex simple, accessible, easy to understand.
First of all, the book has pictures! Call me simple, but I’m a visual learner, so I like pictures. What Hartl is actually doing is writing icons. He finds an image that captures a theological concept, and through a simple drawing gives us a doorway into what he wants us to explore, understand, and easily remember at a later date.
Hartl promises in his book twelve steps to transformation and then lays out simple, practical invitations to make more room for God in our lives. He deals with formational practices, and with the wisdom borne of experience, shares how to overcome common obstacles to deepening your life of communion with God.
I love the chapter titles.
Why? Again because he is able to capture a body of learning in a single memorable word. It’s just good craftsmanship, and masterful communication.
The final thing I enjoyed about the book is Johannes’ transparency and vulnerability. It would have been easy to merely write a “how to” manual, but Johannes gives us glimpses into his own heart and processes, his dreams and disappointments. We are invited to be a fellow pilgrim on the journey with him, rather than an acolyte under his tutelage.
This book is equally helpful for prayer novices or newbies, and also for those who have been cultivating prayer for a loooooong time and need a fresh perspective on how they might create space for encounter. Now that I’ve completed it, I’m going to start passing it around to my friends and colleagues….
Prayer Truck is behind us, and now we are gearing up for the fall. It’s going to be very full and rich! We have over 15 part time interns in our 10 month Studies in New Monasticism Internship. 2 part time students from McMaster Divinity College. We are running 2 cohorts of monthly group spiritual direction for women leaders, called Soul Sisters. We’re expanding our prayer room hours so that we’re open whenever 541 Eatery and Exchange is open. We’re beginning to explore the possibility of a Social Enterprise Business to run alongside GOHOP, and we’ve embarked on The Sustainability Project, which will be providing resources to front line justice workers to reduce burn out rates in the field. Kirk is in the final stages of an amazing and creative upgrade to the GOHOP website.
Don’t worry, Kirk and I aren’t doing this all by ourselves. We have a fantastic and ever growing team of gifted leaders that are working hard cultivating prayer, mission and justice in Hamilton.
As you may be aware, in addition to my local responsibilities with GOHOP, I stepped into a role with 24/7 International about a year ago. I am now serving on their global Boiler Room Team. The function of the team is to cultivate the prayer communities and church plants that have sprung out of the 24/7 movement, helping provide structure, oversight and undergirding, developing training tracks for emergent leaders, and building national and international collaborations.
My area of responsibility is supporting and cultivating the New Monastic/House of Prayer communities affiliated 24/7, mostly in North America but also to some small degree in Europe and the UK. I have monthly mentoring/spiritual direction with prayer community leaders via skype, and then annual “site visits” to their communities to offer support and to lend expertise.
Between my 24/7 responsibilities and my quarterly training in Chicago, with the Transforming Centre, I’m travelling a few days every month. In September I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina as we formerly adopt 24/7 Charlotte into the movement. And in October I will be in Hernhutt, Germany – home of the famous Moravian 100 year prayer meeting in the 1700’s and the birth of the first Protestant Missions movement. Next stop is Salzburg, Austria where I will be doing a site visit of a 24/7 House of Prayer there. Then it’s on to Vienna for 24/7’s Global Gathering. I will be in leadership/oversight meetings with the Boiler Room Team, teaching workshops at the Gathering, as well as meeting with and doing consultations with New Monastic/House of Prayer leaders from all over the world.
A number of my expenses are being covered by 24/7, but I will still need to raise an additional $1500 – $2000 to meet my travel expense budget for 2015. I’m also looking for folks who have an abundance of air miles/travel points who might be interested in helping me with some of my monthly flights. Would you prayerfully consider partnering with me as I invest in the development of new leaders and young prayer communities?
I just want to go back to Prayer Truck for a minute and tell a story. Early one Monday morning in June I opened the truck for the first shift of the season. As I did, a young man raced across the parking lot towards me. “The prayer people!” he yelled, “Thank God!” He sat with me for an hour and a half and shared his story. He was a pimp, and in leadership in one of the local gangs, but crystal meth use was eating away at his life. In the midst of all that, he was having encounters with God and wanted to talk about it. He allowed me to pray for him, and even wrote some of his own prayers on the wall of the Prayer Truck, before he went on with his day.
It was amazing.
The scope of our ministry has increased, but really when it comes down to it, our work is all about helping an individual learn how to pray, how to open up conversation and communion with the God of the Universe who can (and often will) change everything. Thanks everyone for all your love, your prayers, your partnership in the gospel. Please pray for Kirk as he works hard to complete the website. Pray for me for wisdom and discernment in my leadership, and that I could be fully present and fully loving not only towards Jesus, but towards those He puts in my path.
If you are interested in partnering with us, you can donate online at www.canadahelps.org (type GOHOP in their internal search engine), or send cheques made payable to GOHOP to Box 57022, Jackson Square, ON, L8P 4W9. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions regarding air miles/points.
Recently I heard a great story about three fish.
One day two fish were swimming in the ocean. A third fish swam up to them and gurgled “the water is lovely today, isn’t it?”
They smiled and nodded and the third fish swam on. When it was out of sight, they turned to one another and asked,
Its easy to be unaware of our atmosphere, our surroundings, because we are immersed in it every day. Changes in our spirits and in our communities often happen very slowly, in very small increments. I’ve often said to city reachers that city transformation is not measured in months or years, but in decades. Change takes time, and can be imperceptible as it happens.
That is why it is so valuable to have someone come visit from the outside, look at everything with a fresh set of eyes, and tell you what they see.
Andy Freemen, author of Punk Monk, did just that during the last week. He came, he saw, and he shared with us what he saw God doing in our midst. It was deeply encouraging and really strengthened the hearts of our team. We feel energized to dig more deeply into the work that God has for us here in Hamilton, confident that God is at moving wonderfully amongst us.
Tomorrow, I get to do just the same thing that Andy did. I’m flying to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit my friend Lisa Koons, who runs 24/7 Charlotte.
Joined by USA 24-7 Leaders Joe Steinke and Dave Powers, we are going to hang out with her and her prayer community.
We’re gonna tell her how great the water is. I can’t wait!
Years ago GOHOP went on a journey of exploration. We loved some of the spiritual DNA we had received from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City: praying scriptures, a vocational call for some to a lifestyle extravagantly given to prayer, the fusion of prayer and worship, the centrality of Jesus in the prayer movement.
However, we found that the IHOP model wasn’t fitting us or our context the way we had hoped. It was like we borrowed a friend’s sweater that we loved, but our body was shaped differently, so when it was on us, it didn’t fit or look the same. We wanted our Presbyterian friends to be just as comfortable in the prayer room as our Pentecostal ones. Although we loved Harp and Bowl, we were eager to explore what the Apostle Paul calls “all kinds of prayer.” And we wanted to create an expression that was meaningful and accessible to the urban poor.
Enter 24-7 Prayer and Andy Freeman.
Andy was the founder of 24-7 International’s first Boiler Room (their name for Houses of Prayer) and co-authored a book Punk Monk with Pete Greig. In his book, Andy painted a picture of communities built around prayer, mission and justice, and models of doing life and prayer together that seemed like they might fit us better.
So we began to knit our own sweater, keeping the wooly bits from IHOP that we still loved, and weaving in strands of spiritual DNA and models that Andy and 24-7 embodied. The end result? GOHOP in it’s present incarnation. Community dinners and houses. Prayer in UHauls in back alleys. A joyful mash up of all kinds folks from diverse theological perspectives.
Today I’m picking Andy up at the airport, and he’s spending three days with us. We’re gonna show him around Hamilton and immerse him in our rhythms. In a sense, he is an important spiritual father to our little prayer community. I’m hoping that as he prays, eats, and chats with us, that he will see how God has used him to create life in our midst and help us knit a sweater that fits – that he would see his life and vision enfleshed in our community and that he would be encouraged.
Andy will be joining us at our Annual General Party at 541 Eatery and Exchange on Wednesday night at 7:30. Once a year we gather to eat, pray, and love…. and tell stories. I bet Andy’s got a bunch of good ones. Maybe you can join us!
GOHOP is part of a global prayer organization called www.24-7prayer.com and every Advent and every Lent, they produce a wonderful series of video podcasts that set our hearts on the journey of prayer and following Jesus. This Lent is no exception. Today, on Ash Wednesday, 24-7’s Carla Harding invites us on the journey.
You can subscribe to them on iTunes or Youtube, so that you receive them each week through Lent.
24-7 has also published some materials to help you on the journey, and you can get them at http://www.24-7prayer.com/theartofexamen. I practice the art of Examen daily, and have found it to be a wonderfully enriching spiritual practice. Will you join me?
“So we were thinking, if you’re already doing 17 hours of prayer a day in the truck, why not just add another 7 hours and pray through the night?”
I was chatting with Andrew and Kristen, team leaders of MoveIn Hamilton. We’ve been buddies for a while, loving on and praying for and with one another.
“30 days is a long time. If you think you can do it…” (ah, to be so young and energetic, I thought).
When Hammerhop (the other House of Prayer in town) heard that MoveIn wanted to do 30 Nights of Fire, they didn’t hesitate, and marshalled their resources as well.
MoveIn, Hammerhop, and GOHOP, working together. One of the beautiful things about what God is doing in Hamilton, is building collaborations built on friendship, mutual respect, and shared vision.
So for the last month, with the exception of a Sabbath night every Saturday night/Sunday morning, there has been 24/7 worship and prayer for Hamilton.
30 Nights of Fire at the True City Office.
And then, at 7 am, the baton was handed to the Prayer Truck
Then at midnight, back to the night watch team again!
“I found it to be an amazing complement,” said Laurie, who frequented both Truck and 30 Nights of Fire. Get filled up at night in His presence, just worshipping Him, and pouring it out in the Truck by day, bringing His presence to the neighbourhood.
I arrived at 6 am this morning, to catch the tail end of the last shift of the 30 Nights of Fire. They were singing, dancing, praying and proclaiming over the city. Praying through the night is difficult. Praying through 30 nights in a row is miraculous!
“Thank you all for your sacrificial service,” I had an opportunity to share with them, right at the end. “In prayer rooms like these, behind closed doors, we build invisible things. But there is a river that makes glad the city of God. The Lord Most High is in the midst of her, and she will not fail. God will be with her at the break of day!”
Tonight we finishing up the Prayer Truck with a Barbecue at 7, at the truck. We will feast together, enjoy each other, and enjoy God’s goodness in our midst. 30 days of night and day prayer for the city. Several salvations, many hearings. Countless divine appointments. Lives changed. We have much to celebrate!