Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ancona 24/7 Prayer Room

Well, we’ve had three days or more now to debrief and reflect on the prayer room experience. Thanks to everyone who wrote to ask for more details. I wanted to wait until now to spend some time processing, to see how people would respond, to see how God continued to work, to hear testimonies from those who participated, to speak to our Life Group and to get the pictures that were taken. I’m glad I waited.

For those of you just catching up, we just hosted our first 24/7 prayer room. We are joining along with dozens of churches around the world involved with the 24/7 Prayer movement to host these times set apart for prayer. The general idea is to set aside a place (in a church, office, pub, van, tent, etc.) for a specified period of time to be dedicated to prayer. The location is set up creatively to encourage prayer in lots of different forms (painting, drawing, writing, meditating, kneeling, standing, sitting, pacing, dancing, singing, playing instruments, etc.). Heather took our team’s ideas and combined them with ideas we gathered at the Seville conference and mixed them with her own, God-given creative talents to create a beautiful prayer refuge. We took our little office space (about 15’x15’) and emptied it, storing everything in the backroom. Heidi helped her shop for supplies. She painted it a cream color. Brian and I mounted a large frame on the wall and Heather lined it with paper, creating a large, blank canvas. I built a rugged cross to place in one corner. Two maps were mounted in another. Heather created a veil of lights to hang over a couch. There was a small refreshment section as well as a musical station. On a large wooden plank, she took Brian’s idea and placed the words, ‘Dio è…’ which means ‘God is…’. We divided up the 48 hours and recruited 26 of those slots to be filled assigning people to be on-call. In the end, a few people didn’t show up and several of us spent a few 2 and 3 hour turns in the prayer room.

I counted 29 individuals who each spent at least an hour in the prayer room. Some of these were alone, others were in the room in pairs or small groups. There were 15 from our church, 5 from the Apostolic church, 5 Catholics and 4 who really don’t fit any of these categories. All of this to promote, foster and host 48 hours of continuous prayer in at least four different languages with people represented from the U.S., Italy, Romania, Holland, and Argentina. What was once a grey, dingy office space was transformed into a beautiful haven of prayer. Blank paper and canvas and walls were turned into praises, poems, drawings, paintings, songs, cries for mercy, thanksgiving and forgiveness. Our little community of believers rallied around the simple vision of spending time with Jesus. And that’s just what we did – we spent time with Jesus.

What were the results? Almost without exception, people came out of the prayer room with two comments:

1. Time flies in there!

2. When is the next one?

Lukewarm faith was inspired. Traditional religion was reawakened. Children were encouraged to use their talents to praise God. Trust was established and grown. One young mom came out and wrote us this note:

the prayer room was an extremely touching experience for me. Entering the prayer room was like entering in a separate world. My hour went by very fast and some time with myself and with God was very meaningful…sat down on the sofa and kept weeping. I felt I wasn't worthy enough to be in there where everybody had humbled and open their heart to God, put their pain and worries in the hands of God, sticking their prayer on the wall...”

Someone wrote a note and stuck it to the cross saying, “Lord Jesus…thanks to them (our team) it has been possible for me to be here today to spend time with you in this way…”

It was exciting, emotional, tiring, frustrating, refreshing and just, plain crazy. No one was healed, God didn’t speak audibly. There were no miracles except the miracle of prayer itself.

Here are my 5 favorite aspects:

-ownership: by our team and now, after, by our church, and all those who participated

-100% participation: this doesn’t happen often here – but everyone on our team and in our church participated

-promoted unity: not only between ourselves and the Apostolic church, but also between the leaders of the ecumenical group and several key priests of the region

-focus wasn’t ‘us and them’ but just ‘us’: so often I believe we err in sharing the Good News by assuming that we have it all figured out – it was really refreshing to not focus on ‘winning’ anyone to Christ but to merely invite them to spend time in communion with God – what the lawyer lay-leader wrote on the wall was equally valued and honored as what the six-year old drew.

-mission was granted: this one I didn’t really expect – you see, I’m already a missionary…but as I prayed in the early morning hours, somewhere between the loud, bass beats of the club downstairs I believe I detected the call of Christ to get to know the club-goers better

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. It has been so uplifting to partner with you in prayer. We are already beginning to talk about when we will host our next 24/7 prayer room. Maybe the Lord is laying it on your heart to get involved where you are?

1 comment:

Carol said...

Thank you for the update and the beautiful pictures! The transformation of the space is amazing and I pray that the transformation of lives is just as spectacular!