My first model for a House of Prayer was the L’Arche network of communities built around Jean Vanier’s vision of simplicity, community, service and prayer. I was introduced to Jean Vanier’s work in 1972, when I was 19 years old. I was full of youthful idealism, but my understanding of the things of God was very fuzzy. I loved what I saw in L’Arche but didn’t really know what to do about it.
Fast forward 15 years to 1987. Having been a United Church minister for ten years, I finally surrendered my will to Jesus and was baptized in the Holy Spirit. At this point, genuine intimacy with God became something I desired with increasing intensity. At times I had breakthrough into real intimacy in worship, and my soul cried out for more. But despite my hunger for authentic encounter with God, for the most part my prayer life was driven more by a sense of duty and a desire to see things change in my ministry, work and family than by a genuine response of love to a God who desired an intimate relationship with me.
Fast forward another 20 years to 2007. My desire and experience of intimacy with Jesus had been gradually increasing. Over the years I had been growing in my understanding of the power and centrality of intercessory prayer in seeing hearts healed and lives changed.
2007 was a year of transition for Marion and me on several levels. The house church that we had been leading in Russell, a small community south-east of Ottawa, had come to an end. We moved back into the city, to be involved in a church in the historic neighbourhood of Vanier, just east of downtown Ottawa, and bought a house there.
Our son Simeon and his wife Heather lived not far away, but within a few months they told us the Lord was leading them to move to Minnesota, which is Heather’s home state. Marion and I were sad to see them go, but their move proved to be the stepping stone to some major spiritual growth that would highlight the centrality of prayer in our lives. During 2008 and the first part of 2009, Simeon served as a prayer intern in Bethany House of Prayer (BHOP) on the campus of Bethany College of Missions in Bloomington, Minnesota. BHOP was modelled on International House of Prayer in Kansas City. BHOP proved to be somewhat short-lived due to differences of vision, but during its brief life it had a powerful impact on me. On two separate visits to Simeon and Heather, I attended prayer watches and was drawn by the intimacy of the worship and the authenticity and intensity of the prayer. I had been to lots of prayer meetings but I had never really experienced anything like this.
During our 2009 visit, our own church was in a time of transition and I was using the time away to get some perspective on things back home. Marion and I were responsible for overseeing small groups and desired to promote a relational vision of church. I remember going for a walk and asking the Lord what I should do to advance this mandate. His answer surprised me. I distinctly heard His voice in my spirit telling me to join our church’s intercessory team!
From that time on, I have known with a certainty that I am called to be an intercessor. I began to follow teachings and worship from International House of Prayer and was deeply moved by the intimacy of the worship, and impressed with the depth, scope and quality of the Bible teaching. In May 2011 Marion and I visited IHOP for a weekend and again found ourselves powerfully drawn by the worship, the teaching and the atmosphere of prayer. It wasn’t just a momentary spiritual high like what you sometimes get from going to a conference. There was no hype. The devotion to the Lord and the sense of his immediate presence were deep and authentic.The teaching was sound, and deeply anchored in a strong view of the word of God.
Marion and I had many conversations about this. We loved what we saw at IHOP but we didn’t sense that we were to move to Kansas City. And from what we were coming to understand about the world-wide prayer movement, we realized that every community needed a House of Prayer.
Then on Canada Day 2011 I woke up with an awareness that somehow the Holy Spirit was prodding me about being involved in seeing a House of Prayer birthed in Ottawa. Since then the prodding has not gone away. After following more conferences online, seeking counsel on several occasions from Richard Long who has become a good friend, and an eight-month unplanned hiatus in my technical consulting practice during which I have spent a lot of time reading Scripture, listening to teachings, reading books on prayer, journalling, reflecting and praying, Marion and I have come to the reluctant conclusion that the Lord is prompting us to be involved in seeing a local House of Prayer birthed in our community of Vanier.