Adjustments along the way

It has been almost four months now since Marion and I started holding weekly meetings for worship and prayer in our home. We have learned a lot, and we have already made some minor adjustments along the way. Now it’s time to make a few more.

Up until now we have been basing our gatherings around a simplified form of the Harp and Bowl model of worship and prayer that was pioneered in the prayer room of International House of Prayer and has helped millions of Christians to pray with fluency from a place of intimacy with God. Moving forward, the core of our meetings most Thursdays will still be Harp and Bowl worship and prayer, but for the next few weeks we are going to experiment with a couple of minor adjustments in the overall shape and flow of the evening.

The first adjustment, in the interest of building community, is that we will try starting the evening with a half hour of recorded worship music, to make it less awkward for those who can’t get here right at 7:00 pm. That way, Marion and I can greet people as they arrive, and we can aim to begin our time of Harp and Bowl worship and prayer at 7:30, by which time most people will have arrived.

Frankly, this adjustment will only be a success if you think of the gathering time as part of the meeting, and make an effort to arrive as close to 7:00 as possible. If you think that as a result of this change, the meeting really only begins at 7:30 and you have an extra half hour to arrive, the net result will be that our meetings will start later and later, and we will have less and less time for actual worship and prayer. If that begins to happen, we will be forced to go back to our original pattern of starting with worship and prayer at 7:00 pm no matter who is here.  So, if you want to help us build community, aim to be here as close to 7:00 as possible, so that you can spend time greeting others and resting in the presence of God until we begin worship and prayer at 7:30.

The second adjustment, again in an effort to build community, is that we will aim to leave some open time at the end of the evening for sharing and prayer about any pressing personal concerns. We don’t want this to take over the whole evening. Our primary purpose is still to come together to worship God and pray for our city and neighbourhood. However, we realize that the pure Harp and Bowl model of the IHOP prayer room is practiced in the context of an existing community of people who live and work and serve together, whereas we need to build community each week as we come together from our various places and callings. One way of doing that is to allow some time for pressing personal concerns.

A third adjustment is that I have been sensing for a while now that the Lord wants me to stop promoting the meetings with weekly event notifications, and trust Him to simply bring people that He is drawing to be part of this developing community of prayer. Our worship and prayer gatherings are not “events” that we are trying to promote, they are gatherings of praying people drawn together by the Holy Spirit for a common purpose. Those of you who are regular participants already know about the meetings, and don’t need to be reminded. Further, you are each free to invite other individuals who might be interested. As for those who are not regular participants, I have had feedback from a few people indicating that they would prefer not to receive the weekly event notifications.  As I reflect on this, I am reminded of the testimony of Hudson Taylor, a 19th century missionary to China, who did not even make his financial needs known, but simply presented them to the Lord in prayer and trusted God to answer. In a similar way, I believe that our strategy for growth should be based on prayer, with personal invitation playing a secondary role. By all means feel free to invite people, but let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be the one who draws them.

I will send out notifications (by means of this blog, Facebook and email) if we have a special guest coming, or if we have to cancel the meeting for some reason. Otherwise, you can assume that our weekly gatherings will be taking place at 7 pm every Thursday at 283 Ste Cecile in Vanier.

Holy Week prayer

Last night in our living room, in remembrance of the night when Jesus was betrayed, seven people worshipped, prayed, read the Passion narrative and shared the bread and cup of the covenant. We recalled the words of Paul that whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim His death until He comes. We prayed for persecuted believers and for all those who are undergoing tests and trials, that they would be strengthened by the living hope that we have in Jesus. We also prayed for the salvation and protection of the people of Israel, believing and declaring that the day will come when the leaders of Israel will cry out “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”.


Thirteen friends filled our living room last night. That may not seem like a huge number, but we have a small living room. They spilled over into the hallway and the dining room.

Since the start of the year, Marion and I have set aside Thursday evenings to worship Jesus and pray for our neighbourhood and city,

There have been a couple of occasions when Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the angels were our only companions. God has used those times to test and shape our hearts by reminding us Who we are doing this for. One of Jesus’ complaints about the Pharisees (religious leaders of his day whom he considered to be hypocrites) was that everything they did was done for people to see. They wanted to be noticed. They craved recognition, approval, attention. The times when no-one else is present have trained the eyes of my heart to focus on Jesus, and seek to bring Him pleasure simply because He is worthy.

That’s a process that is not yet complete. But Father in his kindness and mercy also gives us times with friends to encourage us. Last night was one of those times. Our house was full of friends new and old.

Some were from our wonderful church family at All Nations Ottawa. Some were from The Village, a little church in our neighbourhood of Vanier where Marion and I served for several months last year. Some were from Love Ottawa. Some were brothers and sisters from other parts of Ottawa with a vision to see local houses of prayer birthed across our city.

They came to worship and pray with us. They also came to hear from Jill and Kirk Weber of Greater Ontario House of Prayer in Hamilton, who brought much encouragement by sharing stories and insights from their journey as pioneers in the contemporary Canadian prayer movement. The presence of the Lord was sweet and our hearts were refreshed.

I don’t know where all this is going. I am learning to simply take one step at a time as Marion and I seek to obey Jesus. For now, we will simply keep doing what we are doing, until He shows us new steps of faith. But two truths were lodged in my heart last night.

One of these truths is that, in the Psalmist’s words, for me, it is good to be near God. I don’t know any other way to live anymore. Loving Jesus has become my identity, and being a man of prayer isn’t just something I do, it’s who I am and who I am becoming.

The second of these truths is that seeking the Lord is not meant to be a solitary occupation. Although we need to keep our eyes on Jesus when no-one is around, and although both Marion and I place high value on times of solitude when we can be alone with the One who knows us better than anyone else, we have also learned that truly God sets the lonely in families. We were made to give and receive love. We were made to share life with others.

Living in community is part of the heart and soul of a genuine life with Jesus. Learning to love others strips away our fear, our pride, our self-preoccupation. It teaches us to cultivate genuine humility and gratitude. While we do need the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, we also need the encouragement of fellow travellers who are seeking to walk the same road of faith, hope and loving obedience.

Last night I received a fresh dose of both kinds of encouragement. For that, I am grateful.



Stirring Up Desire

We had a wonderful time together last night, worshipping the Lord and crying out to Him to increase our desire for Him. We also prayed for the people of God, for the Bride to have her love and desire for the Bridegroom greatly increased. And we prayed for those not yet saved and for those caught in various forms of sin and bondage. that they would have eyes opened to see the glory and goodness of God and they would find desire for Him rising up in their hearts.

Over the past few weeks we have settled into a simple pattern of Harp and Bowl worship and prayer that works for us. On a typical Thursday evening we will have one devotional and two intercessory cycles, organized loosely around a common theme. We begin our first Harp and Bowl cycle shortly after 7 pm by reading a few verses of Scripture to focus our thoughts, and we usually have a time of conversational sharing after concluding our third prayer cycle. Our aim is to wrap up by 9 pm, although last night we spilled over a little bit.

Numbers have varied greatly. Last night our living room was full. Some nights there have been as few as three of us (Marion and I being two of those three).  The Lord has settled it in our hearts that we are doing this for Him, not for the acclaim of people, so we are going to worship and pray on Thursday evenings no matter who shows up, as long as the Lord gives us strength and grace.

Anyone with a desire to grow in love for Jesus and to present the needs of others before His throne is welcome to join us as we pray for the people of God, for the city where we live, and for the world that Jesus died for.

Before His Eyes (God as Bridegroom, Judge and King – 2)

Scriptures from the January 23, 2014 meeting can be viewed here.

Because this theme is so important for our life of prayer, we will be considering it again at our next meeting on Thursday February 6.

There will be no meeting on Thursday January 30. Instead, we will join with All Nations Ottawa at 7:30 pm to receive a message of encouragement from evangelist Arne Skagen of Norway (Ecole Francojeunesse, 119 Osgoode Street at Nelson).

Foundations of the House of Prayer

David’s Tabernacle

John 2:14-17

  • Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s House
  • What is zeal? Burning, fervent emotion
  • Jesus’ zeal for holiness of God and presence of the Lord

Isaiah 56:6-7

  • House of Prayer for Nations
  • Joy in place of prayer

Luke 2:36-38

  • Anna’s zeal
  • She had been waiting for the Messiah
  • Intercessor, prophet, evangelist

Luke 18:1-8

  • One of the signs of faith is persevering prayer
  • Jesus is looking for this

Revelation 22:17

  • He wants to come back for a bride who is in love with Him

Ephesians 2:19-22

  • We are the dwelling place of God
  • Prayer movement is spreading throughout the earth