Over the past year, I have had the privilege of meeting a number of other people whose hearts have longed to see a House of Prayer launched in Ottawa. Many of these precious people have been deeply touched by the power, beauty and intimacy of the harp and bowl worship and prayer modelled by International House of Prayer in Kansas City, and have been dreaming of a large IHOP-style House of Prayer in Ottawa.
When I first sensed the Lord nudging me about being involved in a House of Prayer in Ottawa, I too immediately thought of something like IHOP. I was both excited and intimidated by the prospect. I love the worship and prayer that comes from the IHOP Global Prayer Room, but was daunted by the prospect of coming up with enough trained musicians for 24/7 harp and bowl worship and prayer.
It didn’t take me long to realize that among my new friends with a vision for a House of Prayer in Ottawa, no-one had an answer to this dilemma. Everyone wanted to see an IHOP-style House of Prayer in Ottawa, but no-one knew how to get there.
My first clue that God might have something different in mind – at least for Marion and me – came when one of the elders of our church loaned us a wonderful book titled The Grace Outpouring, which describes the genesis of Ffald-y-Brenin, a retreat centre and House of Prayer in Wales that has given rise to a number of other local Houses of Prayer in Great Britain.
I found this story powerfully motivating and encouraging because it made the idea of starting a House of Prayer seem attainable for a middle-aged couple like Marion and me. The couple whose story is featured in this wonderful book were in their mid-fifties when the Lord called them to this work. Like Marion and me, they felt disqualified on several counts, but the call wouldn’t go away,
I began to wonder whether a smaller local house of prayer might be what God had in mind for Marion and me. Then, one summer day as I was riding my bike through Vanier after having read The Grace Outpouring, I “saw” in my spirit a small local HoP based in a house in Vanier. Talks with Richard and Terry Long of Together Canada, as well as Stefan and Pascale Cherry of The Village, helped to confirm and clarify my growing sense that the ministry to which the Lord was calling us would be in our own community. Further confirmation came after reading Red Moon Rising, which describes a movement of local, small-scale 24-7 Houses of Prayer. Many details are still unclear, but our desire is to see a local HoP that would incorporate elements of worship, prayer, hospitality, refuge and service.
When the Lord Jesus commissioned the apostles just before ascending into heaven, he told them to begin in Jerusalem, where they were currently located, before spreading out to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). For most of us, our mission field begins where we live. For Marion and me, this seems to be the way God is leading us.
When Marion and I moved to Vanier in 2007, we did not come here just because of the affordable housing prices, the great neighbours, the multicultural feel of Vanier, and its proximity to the Rideau River parklands and to downtown. These are all aspects of life in Vanier that we have come to love, but first and foremost we moved to Vanier because we felt called here by God.
We have sensed for some time that the Lord wanted us in Vanier for a reason. Now, after several years, that reason is becoming clearer. We have planted churches before, but we didn’t sense that we were to plant a church in Vanier. We have a desire growing in our hearts to plant a different sort of Christian community – a House of Prayer that will be for all believers, and indeed for all people who want to seek the God of the Bible.
Vanier, like any city, town or village, is a place God loves, full of people with needs, people for whom Jesus died. It is also the community where He has placed us. What better place to birth a house of prayer, a lighthouse for our city and its people?