Feast for the Senses

I just got back from a few days of retreat with the Transforming Community in Chicago.  This retreat we learned about the spiritual practice of Embodiment.  Seeing the body as sacred.  Being present to our bodies, caring for our bodies.  Exploring what it means for the body to be a place of encounter with God.  One of our exercises was to go on a prayer walk, so one morning in the wee hours I took a brisk stroll around the lake at the retreat centre.

This is the secret passageway to the lake walk
This is the secret passageway to the lake walk

The air was heavy and humid.  The silence was deep.  The beauty was astounding.

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There was a very interesting juxtaposition of wilderness and stone bridges with pillars.  Fascinating and lovely.

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The deer were plentiful, curious, and very tame!

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My body invigorated by walking.  My spirit nurtured by silence.  My soul nourished by beauty.

God present with me in all of it.

Truck By Day, Fire By Night

“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.

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The crowd at 6 am this morning...
The crowd at 6 am this morning…

And then, at 7 am, the baton was handed to the Prayer Truck

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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!

Obed House of Prayer in Victoria, B.C.

I first met Mary and Doug at the National HOP Summit in Winnipeg.

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“We’ve just been appointed Directors of the Obed House of Prayer. We’ve been HOP Directors now for about a week!”

“Might as well jump off the deep end,” I grinned.

We hit it off right away. Even liked the same books!

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Red Moon Rising just wrecked us, and set us on the path to the House of Prayer.”

It made sense then, when I next visited the west coast, to go visit the Obed House of Prayer in Victoria.

I spent the afternoon on the beach with Mary and Doug, praying, chatting about all things House of Prayer, watching the curious seal that kept swimming by to investigate us, and telling bad seal puns. “It’s God’s seal of approval!”

Later in the evening, we went to their prayer facility on, wait for it…

Obed street.

There I met other members of the community.

There was Jeremy, with a cherubic grin, and hair buzzed into a Mohawk. He is a frontline street worker, bringing food and the presence of Jesus to the transient and gang related youth in the city.

I met Stuart, a local pastor who had given over his sanctuary for Obed’s use all week long. He and several members of Obed demonstrate their love for Jesus by serving the city and cleaning out the houses of local hoarders. A job that the city couldn’t afford to do, and couldn’t find anyone to do. I heard stories of them climbing over four foot walls of garbage, cleaning inches of sludge off bathroom floors, and making a birthday cakes for one of their clients.

After coffee, strawberries and conversation, someone pulled out a guitar and we got down to business.

Almost immediately, the sweetness of His presence descended on us.

They weren’t in a rush, but just lingered quietly in His presence. Hushed and reverent. As a community, they had a tender sensitive posture towards The Lord. Loving Him and knowing they are loved by Him. They were as equally open and tender hearted to me as well, making me feel very loved and welcome.

The Biblical meaning of the word Obed is worship and service.

They are, in my estimation, aptly named. And I look forward to a long friendship.

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Drafting a Rule of Life

I’m in the process of coming up with a personal Rule of Life.

A Rule, you say? What is that?

A Rule is a set of commitments an practices that monastics have, through the ages, set in place to help shape their individual and communal lives. The most famous of these is the Rule of St. Benedict, which has shaped monasticism for hundreds of years, and presently is being explored by new monastics of all stripes.

The idea of a Rule, as Steven Covey would say, is to “begin with the end in mind”. What is the desired outcome? What do I want to grow towards?

That’s where I pull out my handy dandy mission statement, that I formulated carefully and prayerfully many years ago.

My life will be characterized by the presence, the personality, and the purposes of God.

I love how I put WILL in there, hehe. A bold declaration of faith for something that without the grace of God, I absolutely cannot achieve.

So if that is the end, what are the train tracks that will get me there? Spiritual disciples, says Richard Foster, are a means to grace. It is through these practices that we make space in our life for God to do the things we cannot, in and through us. So I began by actually looking at what practices were already present in my life. Here is what I came up with so far.

– 2 days off a week, in a row. One of them being a Sabbath, a day of rest, communion with God and my family. I don’t always get 2, but I always take at least one day of rest. And in rest I aim for re-creation, not vacate-ion (more about that in an upcoming blog).

– early morning with the Lord. I’m a morning person, so it makes sense to me to give Him my best time of day. Time varies as to how soon I have to go to work, but it’s usually 1-2 hours.

– daily devotional reading. Listening with my heart, ready to be transformed.

– daily journaling. I always write three pages a day in my journal. Prayers, thoughts, recording things God says to me, looking back over the previous day to see where I saw God at work.

– attending to the song in my spirit when I wake up in the morning, and making it my breathing prayer for the day. For quite some time now, years even, I’ve woken up with the snatch of a song in my heart. If I spend time on it, and linger on it, it becomes a place of communion with Jesus. Today the chorus is “let heaven come”. Not sure exactly what is happening, but my best guess is that the Holy Spirit inside me is always worshipping and interceding, and is inviting me to join Him.

– in my morning times I take 5-30 minutes (depending on how much time is available and on my level of distractibility) in silent Christian meditation. Quietly setting my soul before him, most often meditating on a scripture passage.

– accountability. I meet with my pastor one on one every month, and my spiritual director as well. It’s a great place to confess sin and explore heart dynamics that nurture or quench the life of the Spirit inside me. Also Kirk and I, from the beginning of our marriage, have had a good natured competition to see who can repent first when we wrong each other.

– weekly puttering. As I’ve blogged before, I count puttering as a spiritual discipline. There is something deeply good and soul clarifying about working in solitude and quietly with your hands. Gardening, baking, cooking and cleaning are my favorite puttering choices.

– generosity. Giving freely and sometimes extravagantly, if we are feeling brave.

– gratitude, honesty, and fidelity. I want to be grateful, not grumbling. I want to tell the truth, and I want to keep committments.

Anyways, that’s my first draft. I will continue to work on it, and take it to my pastor and spiritual director to get their feedback as well.

The bottom line is, I want my life to be structured in such a way to put me in the path of oncoming grace. And as a leader of a prayer community, I have a responsibility not only to myself, but also to my community, to allow God to conform me into the image of His Son, and to shape me into a House of Prayer.

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Report on Canadian HOP Leaders Gathering from Guest Blogger Bryan Neisteter

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I’ve just gotten back from Winnipeg, where we had a gathering of House of Prayer/Prayer Community leaders from across Canada.  I was going to write a report on it, but then my friend Bryan wrote a fantastic one, so I think you should just read his instead.

From the Ends of the Earth We Hear Singing: Thoughts on the Prayer Movement in Canada

From Thursday to Saturday of this past week I was a part of the Canadian Prayer Leader’s Summit held at Sanctuary House of Prayer in Winnipeg. About 30 prayer community/House of Prayer (HOP) leaders from around Canada joined together to be empowered, encouraged and to build relationships with each other, and it really was a great experience. I knew there were many HOPs in Canada, but had met very few people from outside of our little sphere at Sanctuary House of Prayer in Winnipeg. There were many houses of prayer that weren’t able to be represented, but I was so encouraged to see so many who are labouring for the same purpose, to release worship into the heavens across our nation and to see cities, regions, and ultimately our nation transformed by the power of God.

Something truly remarkable is happening in Canada right now. The Lord is putting His hand on men and women across this country — often completely independent of each other at the start —  and placing in them a burning desire to see night and day worship established in their region. I’m not sure that something like this has ever happened in the history of our nation.
Right now we are seeing many Houses of Prayer in their early days — Greater Ontario House of Prayer would be the oldest in this particular stream of the prayer movement at 12 years. Many of these HOPs are small, many don’t have their own buildings and are using churches with free space or anything else they can find to begin to release worship to heaven. Others have started and then stopped but in their place more are popping up — something bigger is going on.
I believe the Bible prophesies an end-time worship movement. In Isaiah 24, a chapter about the Day of the Lord and the shakings on the earth in the last days, we see one of these prophecies released right in the midst of it:

“They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the Lord’s majesty. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; exalt the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear singing: “Glory to the Righteous One” (v. 14-16a).

This passage is clearly highlighting a singing and worshipping Bride in the midst of the darkest days the planet has ever seen.

Malachi says this:

“My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations.” (1:11)

Incense in Scripture is associated with both worship and prayer — and I believe when Malachi says that this is going to be released across the nations it is more than just people converting to Christianity — I believe He is talking about people who are wholehearted lovers of God, and that throughout the nations praise and worship will arise before His throne.

More than having a few Bible verses for it, though, I’m seeing it with my eyes. Right now God is doing something unprecedented across the nations. Day and Night prayer ministries, Houses of Prayer, and Praying Churches are arising in a way that has never been seen, and it is happening in our nation as well. We are at the early stages, but I believe that something bigger is going on in our nation than we even understand right now.

Although there are several Houses of Prayer over 5 years old, I felt in my heart that what happened this weekend was actually the beginning of something. It doesn’t look glamorous right now. There’s a lot of people putting in a lot of hours and making big sacrifices to be before God in prayer rooms that are often mostly empty, but there is something bigger going on than what we can see with our eyes.

And so in this hour we ask Lord, establish your House as a House of Prayer for all nations. I ask that in the nation of Canada you would raise up a symphony of worship and prayer, from the north to the south, from the east, to the west. Raise up singers and musicians, raise up intercessors, raise up a people who are lovesick for you who would not cease to cry out until you split the sky and return. Release buildings, release finances and release grace from sea to sea, in Jesus’ name.

Bryan Blogs at http://sendyourfire.blogspot.ca/ so make sure you check out his other writings about revival and the prayer movement!

 

48 Hours of Worship and Prayer on Holy Week

Our friends at MoveIn are doing it again! 48 hours of continual worship and prayer. This time over Holy Week.

Here is their invite

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Come and join us for 48 as we lift high the name of Jesus and appeal to our Saviour’s Name, character and work, in prayer for our city this Easter weekend! Jesus is worthy of all of our praise and adoration. He is glorious, lovely, merciful, just, holy and the Lord over all!

Feel free to extend this invitation to anyone who loves Jesus.

Thursday, April 17 at midnight to Saturday, April 19 at midnight

Suite 200 – 500 James St. N, Hamilton (The True City Office)

Daytime entrance (6am-10pm): Rear of building, last door on the right.
Nighttime entrance (10pm-6am):Front of building, middle door (look for sign). Follow buzzer instructions.

The worship and prayer focus will take us through the events leading up to the Resurrection. I can’t think of a better way to focus our affections on Him this weekend.

I’m leading worship 6 am on Saturday morning with my buddy Naomi. Come and join me!