24/7 wow – what a week!
OTCC has recently completed it’s first 24/7 prayer week. 168 hours of continous prayer! It was AWESOME!
The idea was that we would have a room dedicated for prayer, a rota so people could take 1 or 2 hours slots (as they wanted), and we as a church would endevour to fill the rota. At first some folks were hesitant (“what do you do for an hour? Sit in silence?!”), and some shared doubts of “will we realistically be able to fill a whole week? Would it not fall on a small willing few?” These are real and vaild concerns!
Many people like the idea of praying, but many (ourselves included!) would probably admit that we are not actually very good at it! The thought of being alone for an hour or so – just us and God, can be quite daunting!
It was clear though that as people caught the vision, a momentum began to build, and the rota filled and filled!
A simple room joined to the chicken shed!
The prayer room is a simple work shop at the bottom of our garden (joining the chicken shed!), it is painted white inside, carpeted, has electricity. There is a small fridge, kettle, tea, coffee, sugar, tables, chairs, music centre, loads of candles, and masses of art equipment! The idea being that the room is not precious – it doesn’t have to be kept pristine!
A chance to explore, create and express...
Interestingly our week of prayer kicked off on 24/7/11! This was completely ‘by chance’ when we booked it! As it started something sparked, many people found their hour whizzed by and they didn’t want to leave, there were incredible artistic expressions of worship and praise, music, and heart felt cries of frustration and pain at some life situations.
Along with paper and typical canvases, the walls, ceiling and windows also became the canvas. As the days passed the room became (still is for now!) completely covered with beautiful, moving, emotional, funny, and sometimes painful expressions of people chasing God’s heart. Some people were moved as soon as they entered the room – impacted by the tangible presence of God. Others were frustrated at feeling nothing! Everyone came out hungry for more!
Engaging youth is a challenge but we found even the (especially the!) youth caught the vision and came back again and again! One mum commented that her son had kept disappearing in the middle of the night – we discovered he couldn’t keep away from the prayer room!
“God really does speak!”
Some of our newer folks heard God speak to them for the first time – one beautiful comment shared was of God saying “Let’s do life together“, there were answers to prayer and even some of our neighbours were aware of things changing in their lives as we prayed for them. One lady came across the road to us and said “what are you doing over here? All the things we have spoken to you about (that need changing in our lives) are happening!”. I was able to take her to the prayer room and show her what was going on.
Every slot was filled! Some people even phoning each other to swap or double up. On the OTCC web site there is a short video of the prayer room which shows the art work, poetry and stories, so do take a look at that!
It was very moving to look out of our window at night and see the room glowing with candles (or blazing like a beacon!), and hear the occasional quiet murmur of singing or praying drifting out into the garden and beyond into the neighbourhood.
Prayer = Mission = Justice
As people left the prayer room there was a sign on the door saying “welcome!”. Why? Because Prayer breeds mission and mission breeds justice. As people pray, a desire for reaching out and loving others grows stronger and can become a real conviction. So we welcome people as “God’s agents for transformation” back into the world!
Of course not every prayer is answered and there is the reality of seeking God, and at times it is hard to feel his presence. But there is definitely something significant about a focused time of pro-longed prayer. The worship time with OTCC the Sunday we finished our week of prayer was reported back by lots of people as “incredible!”.
We are planning our next 24/7 in October and look forwards to being in that special “focused place” again. Our desire is that OTCC becomes a “HOUSE OF PRAYER” more about that on another blog!
May God Bless you and Keep You