A Culture of Prayer in Hamilton

We sat in a circle in what used to be a Christian bookstore.

Joe played the guitar. Sasha the djembe.

We sang hymns.

But full on.

And heartfelt.

As the worship drew to a close, there was a reverent hush, quietness, rest, waiting, listening, loving.

And a tangible sense of His Presence.

I spent the evening last night with what is soon to be a church plant out of Grindstone Church, coming right into my neighborhood.

“It started a year and a half ago,” explained Matt, their team leader, “with us gathering just for a couple of nights, to pray for the city.”

“Yeah, you have to be careful,” I responded, “prayer is dangerous!”

I also just found out that Grindstone is hosting another week of 24-7 prayer up in Waterdown. And that Redeemer University, which normally does one week of 24-7 prayer a year, is adding a second week this spring.

And of course, you all know we just finished an amazing two weeks of 24-7 prayer at the Vine.

And MoveIn is planning another 48 hours of continual worship and prayer over Holy Week.

I think I can honestly say that we are beginning to see the a culture of prayer growing in the city.

Different expressions.

Different communities.

Different locations.

But as Michael Gungor would say “all around, life is springing up from this old ground.”

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As one of many people and organizations who for years has been scattering seeds of prayer here in the city, I find this deeply encouraging.

May it be said of Hamilton,
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek. ~Psalm 27:8

The Creation of a Prayer Room

Tomorrow we launch two weeks of 24-7 prayer, and all this week, we have been preparing the prayer room.

Here is the room just as we got started.

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We turned our regular prayer room into the Vine Cafe, where folks can come hang out and drink coffee. Local artists have hung their work on the walls.

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Already the Vine is a hub of happy creativity. We can’t wait for the 2 weeks of prayer to start!

Have you signed up for your hour of prayer yet?

online calendar

The Psychology of Prayer

The other day I was listening to one of the breakout sessions from the 24-7 International Gathering in Dublin. It was called “The Shrink and the Monk”. One of the speakers, Roger Bretherton, was a psychologist who studies, among many other things, the psychology of prayer. He shared loads of interesting stuff, but one piece really caught my attention.

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Those who study the psychology of personality often split personality up into five dimensions:

Openness: How open are we to new things? How exploratory?
Conscienciousness: How hard working are we?
Extroversion: How much stimulation do we need from external sources?
Agreeableness: How important are harmony and relationships to us?
Neuroticism: How emotionally sensitive are we?

These dimensions are thought to have a degree of stability over the course of our lives and are largely unaffected even by conversion. An introvert converted to Christ remains an introvert.

And interestingly, these dimensions have implications regarding our experience of prayer, and what makes prayer accessible and enjoyable to us.

Openness: Imaginative and exploratory forms of prayer will be life giving. Painting, music, even types of Ignatian contemplation.
Conscientiousness: You will thrive with set routine prayer times and prayer lists.
Extroversion: Are you an extrovert? You likely will enjoy loud and kinetic prayer times. An introvert? Solitude and contemplation is the way in.
Agreableness: Relational connection to God and to one another will be important to you.
Neuroticism: Your emotions will lead you into prayer, your happiness, your fears.

I think challenges can come when we emphasize particular models and methodologies of prayer that cater exclusively to a narrow band of personality dimensions and characteristics. Consquently, people with strengths in different personality dimensions than those being modelled find the way into prayer difficult, and feel left out in the cold. They wonder why their hearts are not burning within them the way they see idealized by others, and become deeply discouraged about prayer. Perhaps this is part of the reason why prayer mobilization can be so difficult!

One of the graces that the 24-7 Prayer Movementhas brought into my life and the life of GOHOP, is the emphasis on “all kinds of prayer.” Coming up in our two weeks of 24-7 prayer, you can sit in silence and contemplate. You can pray through prayer lists. You can do creative artistic prayer activities. Participate in liturgies. Dance and sing with abandon. Enjoy the community with others or enjoy solitude. We are trying to make prayer accessible and enjoyable to us all.

My little précis is not doing the wonderful teaching much justice, so I recommend that you listen to it yourself, and hopefully find onramps to prayer that are life giving and unique to how God has created you.

The Monk and the Shrink and some other great teachings on prayer

Pray and Breathe

As the congregants entered the sanctuary, they were greeted by my daughter Hannah, who stamped their hands with a handcrafted stamp made by our friend Xenia.

It said Breathe

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Heartfelt worship was accompanied by a single banjo. I was reminded why I enjoy Eucharist so much.

After the worship, I had an opportunity to share. My sermon was called Attunement and the Ancient Art of Breathing, a rather unwieldy title which Kevin very sensibly renamed Pray and Breathe.

Here is the link to the mp3 of the teaching

http://eucharistsermons.tumblr.com/post/76248257902/prayandbreathe

I ended by reciting a poem recently written by my friend Marg Ann Roorda. I’ve reprinted it here with her permission.

Breathe

Close your eyes
now
breathe

Close your eyes
now
see

Draw in deeply
hold
let go deeply

Again

Draw in deeply
hold
let go deeply

Again

Draw in deeply
hold
let go deeply

There

Did you feel it
Did you see it
letting go

Close your eyes
now
breathe

Close your eyes
now
see

that is

breathing

that is
life

Unplugging and Plugging In

The average Facebook user logs on for about half an hour a day.

Youtube? The average visitor watches 15-25 minutes daily.

Netflix subscribers plug in for 87 minutes a day.

Here’s the whopper though. The latest American Nelson statistics (2013) indicate that Americans (and I have no reason to believe us Canadians are much different) watch a whopping 5 hours and 11 minutes EVERY DAY.

So much noise. So much visual and audial stimulation.

We have lost the art of being silent. Of being still.

And knowing He is God.

Today I’m preaching at Eucharist Church on “Attunement and the Ancient Art of Breathing.”

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Local Hot Spot for Retreat and Pilgrimage

Yesterday the GOHOP team had a day away, where spent some extended time in prayer and discernment. We have found it good when trying to take some time apart, to actually go away. Somewhere. Anywhere outside our regular space.

We went to Lectio House, but then right after lunch, trekked over to Gage Park, and spent some time in the hothouse there.

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What a great spot on a cold day! I totally recommend it to those of you who long to get away somewhere warm to connect with God.

Going on pilgrimage can be as simple as going to Gage Park.

It’s a little closer and a little cheaper than Cuba. ;o)

Fires burning, fires burning, draw nearer, draw nearer

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I snuck in quietly. It was darkish. Fairy lights strung on the walls and windows.

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My friend Charlene worshipping soulfully on the keyboard in the corner.

Young adults curled up on couches.

Grey haired intercessors praying quietly.

Already, even after 14 hours of continual worship, it feels like a holy space, an open heaven.

Charlene passes the baton to my buddy Ryan from the Hammer House of Prayer, and the worship continues. 48 hours of it. 24 worship teams from all kinds of different churches and denominations in the city.

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In the back, people are writing their prayers on the wall.

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It’s going until midnight on Sunday, at the True City office at 500 James St. North.

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Come and burn with us!