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.