Tuesday, December 29, 2009

GOD ON MUTE: a new "Conversations on Prayer" community

"conversations on prayer" is a safe community of dialogue and exploration for those who don't like classes . . . and aren't too sure about prayer either.
Join us for our next "conversation" as together we explore the hard stuff and sticky questions about God and prayer — the things we bump up against in the trenches of real life.  We'll loosely base our times together on Pete Greig’s excellent book,
but owning or reading the book is not required to join the conversation, or just sit in and listen.

January 10th through February and March
3rd Hour in H-1

SACRED SPACE - Human Sex Trafficking

HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING:  An issue globally; a reality locally.  Did you know that in the U.S., there are more "slaves" -- those held against their will for the purposes and/or profit of another -- than there were in the years preceding the civil war?  Did you know that Phoenix is called the "kidnapping capital" of the U.S., in some respects due to this very issue of human trafficking in the areas of illegal immigration, and the drug and sex trades?  The Lord is placing this issue on our hearts.
  This Sacred Space, Fri., Jan. 8, 6-10 pm, through  
·          Prayer stations
·          A group prayer time
·          The showing (in another room) of “Branded,”  a locally made dvd,we will be focusing on this heartbreaking issue, asking God to raise our awareness, ignite our prayers, and show us how He might be calling us to action.  We will also have our usual live worship and contemplative stations and atmosphere.  Let's come together to seek the Lord's justice and mercy on behalf of those trapped in bondage in our day.

Monday, October 26, 2009


We've just added a playlist to the blog - if you scroll down you will see it on the left side.  It is a wonderful compilation of songs that will lead you from intimate worship, to personal prayer, to intense intercession, and back again!  If you let it play straight through, it will give you about an hour and a half of inspiration for worship and prayer.  The playlist is a little tricky to navigate - as you probably have noticed, the first song begins to play right away, and then goes down through the list.  However, if you want to scroll down to see or choose another song, you have to click on one of the songs listed, and then use your computer keyboard's down arrow to move lower down on the list.  You may have to do this again in order to see all 15 songs.

These are some of the songs I love and which have ministered to me, as well as some we have used in our prayer and worship times as a group.  Enjoy!  May they draw you close to your Lord.  And comment to tell us which ones you like, or to let us know some of your favorites.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Join us this Friday for Sacred Space, 6 - 10 pm.  We are partnering with Open Door to the World, and will have an emphasis on praying for the world, our missionairies and other cross-cultural expressions, as well as for the 7 major areas of cultural influence in the world.  We will have a time during the evening of focused prayer, as well as live worship, but as always, you can come and go as you please and if you like, simply enjoy spending personal time with the Lord.


I first met John Boring at our first week of 24/7 prayer, about 2 1/2 years ago.  He seemed so genuinely touched by the experience.  Although he and I have not spent much time together in the "real" world, I have gotten to know his wonderful spirit and heart through a web community we are both part of.  I asked him to share some of his journey with the Lord with us here, and this is the first of more posts from this amazing, godly man.

I had given up on church years ago.  All that I visited over the years preached a God that was vengeful and disappointed.  The messages all seemed to say the same thing; that I was doomed unless I changed my style of life in drastic ways.  And, even then, it was suspect that I would ever enjoy God’s Kingdom.  I was not a bad man, I did not commit crimes and I tried my best to not be a sinner.  But, the message each Sunday was the same thing.  Hell’s fire and damnation. I knew, deep in my heart, that was not the God I wanted to worship, and if I could not find him in church, I would look elsewhere.  I simply quit going to church altogether, even though my wife was devout and regularly attended and supported her church.

My life began to change on a day in 2000, when our son, Dan, was diagnosed with a serious cancer.  He would fight it for five years, losing his right leg below the knee and ending up with a prosthetic shoulder in the process.  By the time he died in 2005, he was riddled with cancers and in constant pain.  During all of his illness I watched my wife, Suzi, as she coped with the idea that we would eventually lose our only son.  While she comforted Dan and kept a brave face, in private she prayed for his recovery and wept at the frustration of seeing our prayers going unanswered.  We did all we could do to make Dan comfortable but in the end, all we could do was watch as he slowly slipped away. When that happened, we were all by his bedside, holding his hand and talking to him, preparing him for his journey. The hardest thing Suzi and I ever had to do.

Suzi’s faith did not diminish after losing Dan, as I thought it might. God had not answered her prayers, after all, and surely she resented that.  Instead, she joined the choir and steadily supported her church. I decided one day that I needed to help her in that area, so I vowed to start attending church with her, even though I did not like her church or her pastor.  So, I went back to church but Jesus was not yet in my heart and I had not yet accepted God.

Knowing how I felt about her church, Suzi looked around for another one for us to attend.  A friend recommended Open Door Fellowship and we decided to check it out.  The day we arrived at ODF was bright and sunny and hot. As we approached the front door of the auditorium the first two people we saw were the two hospice nurses who had been such angels to Dan.  Nancy Nicolls and Beth Parks.  Seeing these two angels here was a very good sign.

We walked inside and sat in the middle section, back towards the wall.   I looked around the walls and saw the words written there.  “All of my sins were washed away.”  And, “Here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you’re my God.”  Those words suddenly meant so much to me.  Emotion started to stir in my heart that was not connected to grief.  I watched people enter the room, greeting each other, hugging one another.  When men and women sat, they leaned into each other and often the man put his arm around her. I could feel the love in the room.  Then, the band began to play and I had never heard music like this at any church before.  I was in awe and becoming an emotional wreck.  I had no idea what was happening to me.

Then, John Lynch began to speak and it seemed to me his words were directed straight at me and to my heart.  I suddenly broke down in body wracking sobs, crying not in grief, but a feeling that I had come home.  I, right then, could feel God’s presence around me and I sensed He was comforting me.  I sobbed and sobbed, and no one around me paid me the slightest heed.  Evidently, people did that quite often in that church.  I all of a sudden felt such peace and contentment and I knew then that God was with me and that Jesus Christ had entered my heart.  They are both with me now and will be forever. On Easter Sunday, 2006, John Lynch and Jason Ellis baptized me at the church.  I was 75 years old at the time.  -- John Boring

Friday, September 18, 2009


Something exciting is happening. Some men from our church, including our current teaching pastor, as well as our founding pastor, have written a book. Well, actually, they have written several books, but this one is different, in that it is fiction, and as such, has perhaps the potential to reach a wider and different audience than the others. Those of us from Open Door Fellowship have been eagerly waiting to read it, but even beyond that, we have been eager to share it, because it communicates profound truths that we have been hearing for years, and, in our human imperfection, have been wrestling with, gingerly testing, working out, standing on, and at times even staking our lives on, learning to trust God and others with ourselves.
This blog post today is a challenge to “meet” in prayer here, and call on the Lord together, asking Him to use this book to bless others beyond any of our expectations. To bless many; to bless deeply; to bless permanently, as God woos the hearts of those who read it to connect authentically with Himself and others.
Post your prayer below as a comment:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


"Let God's Presence be Your Provision"

SACRED SPACE, Friday, Sept. 11, 6pm-10pm

Has life been rough or messy, tiring, tragic, hard? Come to Sacred Space, a safe place to be in the presence of His grace. Come and go as you please, and enjoy a welcoming atmosphere of soft lighting, simple prayer stations, and live worship, designed to draw our hearts to Him.

Come Friday, September 11th, 6pm-10pm, and let God’s Presence be your provision.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bringing It Home

The ministries of 24/7 and Sacred Space are vital and beautiful. They usher us into God’s presence and inspire in us prayer, meditation, reflection, and worship. The tranquil environment, the beauty and creativity all help us quiet our hearts and enter into a very real experience of God’s presence. These ministries are a gift and I greatly look forward to them. But wouldn’t it also be great if we could learn to find our own "sacred spaces" in our everyday relationship with God? That’s exactly what He wants. This year’s 24/7 theme was "We are a house of prayer."

I have been thinking over the last couple years about how to bring into my personal everyday relationship with God some of the wonderful aspects of these special prayer environments. They so beautifully facilitate sweet times with God that I want more. I began by asking myself what are my favorite things, what are the things that really work for me? Some of my favorite parts of any ODF Sacred Space or 24/7 are the stations that let me write on the wall. Whatever it is that God has pointed out to me, whether glaringly or softly, through the prayer station’s meditation, I love the simple act of writing it down in a public way. I post it as a form of declaration, worthy of being remembered and permanently claimed as mine. As others write their words, the walls become a beautiful collection of private encounters with God, anonymous roof-top declarations, powerful statements. They are the documentation of pivotal moments taken place in listening and yielded hearts.

A few months ago I was excited to have an idea. I went to Aaron Brothers and bought a canvas and some Sharpie markers. I hung it up and began writing down, Sacred Space style, some of the things God was impressing upon my heart through my personal prayer times, Bible reading and scripture meditation. Let me tell you, I am loving it! I pass by the canvas, which is slowly filling up, and read the reminders of what God has spoken to me. Each time there is something new, I post it on the canvas. It has been such a blessing.

We look forward to continuing our monthly Sacred Space evenings and our yearly 24/7 events; they are wonderful and special times. They are also tools to train us how to bring it home into our everyday relationship with our Father who longs to meet with us everyday. Tune in to this blog for future posts that we hope will help you develop your own special ways of being more in His presence daily, resting and quieting your hearts, listening for Him to speak.

-- Judi

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Picture your prayers

It is easy, in the area of prayer, to get hung up on trying to do things the way other people do them, to get tangled up in the "ought to's" and "this ways," instead of allowing God to lead our hearts to Him in the way that best suits the unique creature He has designed us to be! However, there IS profit in hearing "tools" and ideas that have worked for others as we give ourselves permission to simply try and investigate what might work for us.

Here is an idea that Jan Potter sent our way:

"How I changed my picture of prayer" (click on to link with the article)

As you will see, the title of the article is a play on words. I have actually done similar things over the years using photos. You can simply put some snapshots in your Bible, or use the framed photos you have have by your bed or on your wall. What about a prayer collage, where the photos are updated and rotate over time, and as new needs arise? We so often think of prayer as a matter of words, but opening up the other senses, in this case using a visual prompt, can often encourage and enrich our conversations with God.

What types of things have you used as tools or prompts in prayer?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

PRAY! and other great quotes

This wall shows a colorful sign that says, PRAY! It was made by some of the members of our Conversations in Prayer class. It is a fun technique, using a sheet of clear acetate, where you first paint the lettering (or a logo or other outline image) in black on the front; let it dry completely; and then turn it over and paint a colorful image or design, which then shows through as a background. Here it is hung on the wall, but it also looks wonderful when hung freestanding, with natural or indoor light behind it, illuminating the colors and causing the words or outline to stand out.

Around it are quotes on prayer. Here are a few of them:

"True prayer is God the Holy Spirit
talking to God the Father
in the name of God the Son,
and the believer's heart is the prayer-room."
- Samuel M. Zemer

"God does not stand afar off as I struggle to speak. He cares enough to listen with more than casual attention. He translates my scrubby words and hears what is truly inside. He hears my sighs and uncertain gropings as fine prose."
- Timothy Jones

"No great spiritual awakening has begun anywhere in the world apart from united prayer."
- J. Edwin Orr

"Prayer is keeping company with God."
- Clement of Alexandria

"Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God."
- Andrew Murray

"Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched."
- Henri J. M. Nouwen

What is one of your favorite quotes on prayer?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Liz shared her story one Sunday morning in church not long ago, and I asked her if I could post it here . . .

My Journey to Know God through Prayer

Priority. That would be a great word to describe my history of praying. But only if you insert the words “lack of” in front of it. Growing up in the church that I did, I was taught about prayer and others led by example on how to pray. Only, my understanding of prayer became something like this: Fold your hands, close your eyes, and begin “Dear Heavenly Father.” And we are supposed to do this mainly at meal times and before going to bed at night. Also, a little tid-bit about my years growing up is that I went to a Lutheran school from Kindergarten through fourth grade. The only prayer we did at that school was the Lord’s Prayer. And not to say that those ways are bad, because I do see significance in it all and have experienced the beauty of the Lord’s Prayer. I recently realized that I did not feel freedom to pray however I wanted to. In fact, I bet there were times that I was praying, such as “Please don’t let me get caught cheating on this test”, or “Please make the yelling stop”. But the problem here, is that I never considered that prayer. I was only “thinking out loud”.

Well, my life continued and I got into high school and heard talks about prayer in youth group. Most times, it consisted of step-by-step instructions to pray. “First, thank God for something goo d in your life. Second, ask God’s forgiveness for the sins you committed. Third, pray for someone you know who needs prayer. And finally, close your prayer by thanking God for his love. Amen.” Again, not that this is bad, but I felt as if I needed to pray in this way, or I wasn’t praying at all. Well, I wasn’t consistent with this way of praying. So, I tried journaling my prayers. But after several days, weeks, and a couple of years of not writing, I realized that journaling maybe wasn’t a priority in my life, and making the time to do that was too hard because I want to go have fun.

It wasn’t until I showed up here (Open Door Fellowship) that I started to hear how other people pray, and hear people talk about prayer, that I realized I have freedom to pray however I want, whenever I want, and as short or as long as I want. I realized that my thoughts can even be prayers. You mean, I don’t always have to say my prayers out loud and in a certain order? What a concept! So through this, I began noticing little moments throughout the day where God has been with me and helped me through a hard conversation, or was laughing with me. And in those moments I acknowledge God’s presence in my life and thank Him for it. I have began to feel a sense of comfort knowing that God is always with me and He does not have any expectations for me when it comes to prayer. He just wants me to know He is there. And He gets excited when I feel free to pray in group settings, as well as privately between He and I.

A major hard part of this journey that I recently realized, is that I have difficulty trusting God. I have been hurt by men in my life that are “supposed” to be trustworthy, have my best interests at heart and be highly influential in my life, to help me develop my own identity. And then I was hurt by others throughout my life journey and lost trust in people. And here is this God, whom we refer to as “Father” in a relational way, but I didn’t know how to trust someone with the deepest intimacies of my heart. So, I have also been on a challenging journey of learning to trust God with who He says He is and that He cares about me and loves me as if I am the only one in the universe. I am continually learning to trust my Abba like I’ve never known, and feeling safe because He adores me wherever I am at in my journey. So now, when I think of a word to describe my prayer journey, I choose Freedom.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


One of the men's small groups in our church got talking about prayer stations that reflect issues and struggles men can relate to. From that conversation, but even more directly from his own life experiences, one of the men in our fellowship, Jeff, (click here to read Jeff's story) envisioned and created this station, which was not just for men, but for everyone. It consisted of a big plywood wall, painted to look like brick. Next to the wall was a stand with the following printed on it:

Once again, here I am at the wall. Sometimes I feel like I have been shoved into it, at other times I feel like I have run into it full force. Either way, here I am back at the wall. I hope that things will feel different when I am here at the wall. But, it never does.
At times I come to the wall and it brings me some relief. The relief does not last long, but I keep coming back here anyway. I feel trapped and alone. No one could have the thoughts that I do. No one could be suffering in sin and humiliation like me.
To me the wall represents something that I can not get over, through or around. It represents that bondage that keeps me from community, from real relationships and from real relief.
At times the wall is so familiar to me that I find it comforting. The wall finds no comfort in me. It is only there to destroy me. For the strength of this wall is only found in my destruction.
I wish someone would give me a sign that I am not the only one facing this wall.
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1st Corinthians 10:13
The same verse was painted in big letters over the whole expanse of the 8' x 8' wall, with other words inserted to amplify the meaning. For instance, near the words "a way out" were lettered "red light," "a door," "phone call," and "rescue."
On the stand near-by were pens, a glue stick, and small slips of paper, on which were printed:
I am tempted by ___________
just like everyone else.
It was an invitation to each of us to fill in the blank with our own personal areas of temptations, and stick it on the wall, identifying ourselves with the rest of humanity in our capacity to be tempted, and in that revelation, also identifying ourselves with the truth of God's faithful provision of release and relief in temptation, as stated in the verse.
I put "fear," and was reminded again this morning of how I can live in anxiety regarding tomorrow, or next week or next month, when I am not trusting God in the moment, today.
Over the week we watched the wall fill up with these small, and yet huge, proclaimations, as words and phrases like, "anger," "selfishness," "pride," "things," "other people's acceptance," "food," and "fear" begin to cover the wall. Many of the areas of temptation of course were repeated, and some were unique; but there was a universality in the sense of struggle and also freedom in "putting it up there," even anonomously. I imagine for some it was perhaps the first time they had taken an opportunity to put their personal areas of temptation into words, even to themselves.
Take a moment to read back over "THE WALL." Imagine you had access to one of those little slips of paper. What would you put? Trust God and someone else today enough to "put it out there," knowing that you are not alone in your temptation, and that the next time you are tempted, He will provide a way out.

Friday, April 24, 2009


A high-school student, Mia, along with another student, Meghan, and other friends and family, created the peace station, a canopy of "flying" doves overhead, based on an idea the Lord gave her one day. She will tell the story of it in another post, but for now here are some photos, and the text Meghan composed and wrote out based on Mia's ideas, for the hand-lettered board in the peace station:
"The House of Prayer is here to bring us back to the Father. It is a place for us to sit before our Lord and allow Him to shower His grace on our hearts. It is in His presence that we are reminded of our purpose here on Earth. We have a purpose because God made us His beloved children. “And behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:17 These words spoken over Jesus, are a statement of significance that we all bear. We all are given purpose. When we understand and fully believe this testament we are filled with God’s peace, an inner peace absolutely indescribable and overwhelmingly satisfying.

The Dove is a symbol of peace and further, a symbol of our purpose here on earth that God has given each and every one of us. Having received this beautiful truth we are filled with the inner peace necessary to ready our hearts to face the world with heads held high and hearts ready to shine brightly with the unconditional love of God. Jeremiah 29:11 says “ ‘For I know that plans that I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God promises that if you believe what He says is true about how much He loves you, you will be filled with His glory and His peace and in turn love others as He has loved you.

Remember, God is always working, moving, living in us and He is humbly waiting for us to receive His beautiful peace. He is bigger than any challenge you may ever encounter and He has a plan for your life so intricate and beautiful that only God could build.

If you wish to take home a reminder of God’s love, our purpose, and a peaceful heart please do so. Take a dove and decorate it however you like. You may write what this dove means to you or a verse that rings true to your heart."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Our college ministry director, Joel, had an idea for an area where people could kind of quiet themselves before entering the main sanctuary during our week of 24/7 prayer. I loved the basic idea, and I definitely saw the need. I have stood near the entrance in past years of 24/7 and watched as people sometimes rush up to the entry doors, hurry in past the inner black curtains which seperate the foyer from the sanctuary, and then enter all the way in, only to kind of glance around, walk quickly to the left, then to the right, restless, searching, as if they are on a scavenger hunt in a shopping mall, and if they don't see what they want quickly enough, they need to move on. They were no doubt coming off busy days, fitting this time in between other commitments, and it was hard to know where to rest, or how to start.

Joel had the idea this year to transform our little "everyday" prayer room, which is literally not much bigger than if it truly were a prayer closet, into some sort of a calming entry area. I can't remember what he called it, but I kept finding myself referring to it as a "decompression chamber."
Joel was going to enlist some of the students from our college ministry to help with his vision, but he was incredibly busy, and as it turned out, two of the other college ministry leaders, Clark and Suzy, stepped in and took it on, both developing and bringing about the vision, and enlisting a few students along the way.
When I first saw Clark working on it . . . I admit . . . I wasn't sure. I LOVED his vision to take pictures of many of us and hang them to underscore "I am, you are, we are the house of prayer," and how that connected us with each other and with the theme before even entering. But I wasn't sure how this simple idea would create the peaceful transitional area we had talked about. There had to be more.

But that really was it -- less was more -- and it was just perfect! The photos, hung in a grid-like design with soft lighting, and the chairs lining the walls of the room, opening up a feeling of space in the small area, created a soothing, warm and comforting "waiting room" feel -- a place to rest, calm down, focus, center, etc., until one was ready to enter.
Suzy hand lettered some signs, one near a box on a desk, with some blank cards and pens, where people were encouraged to sit and leave their cares, burdens, concerns, behind before entering. Many did, and over the week the box filled up.

On the door next to the entry into the foyer, she had written an encouragment for people to stop and take some time before entering any further. I saw many folks ready to hurry into the foyer, see the sign, stop short, and then turn back into the room to sit for a while. Some for a long while.

It made me think of a quote from "Clinging: The Experience of Prayer" by Emilie Griffin, where she talks about why and how it is so hard to set aside time for prayer, even if it's only five minutes. She goes on to say that perhaps it is not the five minutes for prayer that is hard to set aside, but the twenty minutes beforehand, that we intuitively know we will need before we are even settled enough to enter into the five.

This entry area, this "decompression chamber," helped people enter in not just physically, but mentally and spiritually, by providing a peaceful transition point from the hurry and rush of their busy worlds and lives, into the quiet and peace of an oasis of time with God.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Just outside the sanctuary -- our 24/7 poster on a sign that says, "QUIET ZONE -- Please keep conversations and noise outside this area." Funny how scarce quiet or even more so, silence, is today . . . even in church, where almost every moment of even the services are programmed with vocal or instrumental music, media with soundtracks, preaching, sharing, announcements, and in case there is a moment of silence here and there . . . cell phones going off! The stillness is almost foreign, because we are not used to the "emptyness" of it, and yet when we can really quiet OURSELVES, and enter in, it is rich and full. It creates space for us to begin to be able to hear our own thoughts, questions, concerns; and to hear the heart of God speaking in between the pauses.
And if we're honest, we'd have to admit that at times we are reluctant to enter into the silence, because deep down we agree with Pink, who says, "the silence scares me because it shouts the truth."
Maybe that is why we need the reminder and encouragement to enter into the quiet zone, risky as it may be.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


As I arrived at church today at 9am, I think I expected things to have that “winding down” feeling; we are after all on the final few hours of our week of 24/7 prayer, due to end at 1pm today.

Instead, the sense as I entered the sanctuary was of a serene, welcoming and yet very much alive space, as my eyes adjusted to the soft lighting, and I realized there were several people here and there communing with God. A woman I have never seen before sat at the “Art Expressions” table, obviously moved and weeping as her lips moved in prayer. An unfamiliar man passed me, smiling as he seemed to wander around, taking it all in in delight. The HIV/AIDS ministry team prayed softly in a circle of chairs, pouring their hearts out in compassionate intercession.

I stepped into the alcove, to check the Prayer Link basket. “How many more prayer links were made in the night, “I wondered. “Will there be enough to go all the way around the room?” I looked up onto the wall behind the stage, where the long encircling chain had ended the night before. It was all I could do to keep the silence and not exclaim. The chain was already complete! The paper chain of prayer after prayer after prayer, from individuals for individuals, each link with a name on it, surrounded the whole sanctuary. What an amazing and beautiful visual expression of the connection with God and one another through prayer.

A few hours later, my son Nathaniel arrived to start “dolly-ing” the chairs back to the entryway, in preparation for them being taken in and reset later this afternoon once the stations are all down. The people I had seen earlier were mostly gone, and new “pray-ers” had come in their place. “It still doesn’t feel like it is something that’s ending in there, does it? It feels like something that is going to be here tomorrow, and this week and next month. . . “

Lord, we ARE “ending” our week of prayer – and just the same I know it is true – this work you have done and are doing in us, is not ending. You are revealing to us, and deepening in us the truth, Your truth, that I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE, THE HOUSE OF PRAYER. You have us on an amazing and progressing journey, a journey deeper into Your heart, and deeper into our identity as your people, your children, through prayer.

It doesn’t end here, Lord, does it? I didn’t think so.

And I am glad.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jeff shares his 24/7 experience

A man from our fellowship, Jeff Carlin, shared this last Sunday in church:

When I was twelve I memorized First Thessalonians 5:16 thru 18. It says: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
I really took that verse to heart and I asked God that he would prompt me always to prayer. At that time I had an ongoing conversation with God that did not end at any “amen”. I truly felt God was with me always. As I grew older, however, I discovered the pleasures of sin and my time with God in prayer came to an end. Oh, sure there was the occasional “grace” before a meal and a blessing on a gathering at church. But that continual conversation had come to an end.
I was torn by guilt and did not believe that God would want anything to do with me. I had gained the perspective that God was pointing his finger at me and shaking his head in disgust. I believed the lies I was telling myself and thought that God would never want a relationship with someone he could not trust.
I tried to remember what it felt like to be close in conversation with God and tried to rekindle what was lost. I felt that I could never return to that closeness with God.
Flash forward to our first 24/7 prayer event here at ODF: I was drawn to God through prayer and back to my knees. The mental or emotional part of prayer that had been severed was beginning to be healed. This started with the picture that John Lynch draws so well of God standing with his arm around me. Not condemning or chastising me, but, really inviting me into a conversation with him.
During this time I began to see that God’s desire for a relationship with me was not based on how good I could be, but it is based on how much he desires to know me and for me to know him.
God was waiting for me to rely on him, to admit to him that I am powerless over sin and that only he could give me victory over that sin.
As I went from station to station in the prayer venue I was reminded over and over again about the conversations I had with God when I was a child. I could tell him everything and no subject was too hard for him to hear. He showed me again that he really was waiting all along for me to desire a relationship with him. Although it felt like God was hiding his face from me, it was me who was hiding my face from God. The feeling of removing the first mask of hiding from God was awesome. I was free of that weight and free to let God love me and let others speak into my life.
The prayer stations during the week of 24/7 were the reminders that I needed that “prayer without ceasing” is that ongoing conversation and relationship that God wants with me. God used that week of 24/7 prayer to remind me that there were no taboo topics for me to talk about him with.
He already knew about my sin and has convinced me that I am no different than any person in my need for relationship with him. God reassured me with First Corinthians 10:13 that the testing and temptation that kept me from talking with him were no different for me than any other person.
Not all the stations will have meaning for every person, but I can guarantee that there will be something for you in the upcoming week of 24/7 prayer that will draw you in.
Do not be afraid of what God will do with you during this time of prayer and worship. God will not let you down. He has mightily used 24/7 prayer to draw me back to him. God will draw you to himself. So, come prepared to hear what God has to say to you. For me it has been that simple reassurance that God is saying to me: "It’s ok kid, I’ve got your back."

Come down this week for 24/7 prayer, and you will see a prayer station created by Jeff and his son, based on some of this experience. Look for "The Wall."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My First 24/7

Posted by Judi
When ODF did the first 24/7 Prayer event, I thought, "Sure, I can sign up for an hour, help fill up the calendar." I’d heard there would be creative prayer stations to help facilitate prayer and I also knew I could pray on my own. I figured I could do an hour. The first thing I noticed upon arriving was the black curtains hanging in the doorways. They told me right away that inside was a specialness to be preserved and protected. Once I entered the space, I was met with such a gentle, beautiful, soothing atmosphere I could almost hear the woosh of my soul’s exhale.

I had been in serious need of such tranquility but didn’t really know it until I entered. See, I had been doing a very distant dance with God for a couple years. Not the kind of dance on a dance floor but more like the kind in a boxing ring. Then came 24/7 and as my first evening progressed it seemed like God gently and lovingly took me by the arm, ushered me in, and said, "Shhh, now. Let’s just sit down here awhile where you can take some deep breaths. Relax... Let it all go.... And see how well I know you. Feel how much I love you. "

What my heart was so in need of was rest. The tranquil and creative environment of 24/7 was a conduit for Him to make His presence known and felt to my tired soul. I didn’t know how tired I was until God gave me rest in His presence at 24/7. I came back as many times as I could that week...and the next week as it was extended. I just couldn’t get enough of being there. "There" was God. Just being with Him. I let the prayer stations lead me to prayer on my many visits, but I also spent a lot of time just sort of peacefully blank.

Through 24/7, God had called me to find rest in His presence. And now, I am learning how to find it at home, too. Still, I always look forward to 24/7’s and Sacred Spaces because they are such good tools for shedding the everyday bustle and distractions that batter our souls. I’m really looking forward to this next 24/7.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

24/7 - Not Just For Super-Prayers

Posted by Judi
In the past whenever I heard of an all-night prayer event, I felt intimidated. My mind was filled with thoughts and questions circling around what it would be like and whether I would fit in with the "flavor" of the event. What kind of prayer thing is this? Will I have to pray out loud? What am I supposed to pray about? Will I feel comfortable? Is this just for those few that are so mature that they’ll be praying such beautiful and godly prayers that I, in my tangled up life, won’t even be able to tap in? What if I just want to pray by myself? What will it be like and what’s expected of me?

Let me assure you, the ODF 24/7 Prayer week is not an intimidating event and it’s not just for Super Pray-ers. Among the things I love about 24/7 is the freedom to be who you are and come in whatever spiritual state you’re in. There is no judgement, no right way or wrong way to "do" 24/7. No one is watching you.

Through the curtained doorways of 24/7 will come not just those who appear to have it all together in their relationship with God, not just those who are "super pray-ers", but.....

Some come needing answers. Some come needing quiet.
Some come needing to speak with Him. Some come needing to hear.
Some visit every prayer station. Some visit none.
Some take communion. Some don’t.
Some sing. Some don’t.

Some come not even sure they want to talk to the God who has disappointed them, but they're making an attempt to move toward Him despite their hurt and anger.

Some come with a specific focus, something to discuss with God, seek Him regarding, or hash out with Him.
Some come with no "plan" and instead wait and see where the prayer stations lead them.

Some come to confess.
Some come to repent.
Some come to lay down an idol.
Some come to seek guidance.
Some come to continue their journey of healing.

Some come with Bible in hand. Some don’t.
Some write in a journal. Some don’t.

Some come to worship in the center of the room with others.
Some come to find the most hidden nook in which to plant themselves.
Some come needing just to soak up the tranquility, gently knowing God is there, accepting them as they are.

Everyone is different. We all have different personalities, different needs, different ways of learning, seeing, and relating. God is working in each of us according to who and how He made us. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 59:10b which says, "My God, in His lovingkindness, will meet me." God will meet you where you are and He'll meet you how you are - because He made, knows and loves specifically who you are. He just invites you to come and meet with Him.

Knowing that God has made us all different, that He "meets" us in differing ways according to how He made us, the 24/7 designers have thoughtfully and prayerfully included a variety of prayer stations and prayer spaces for you. The goal is for you to be with God in whatever way that takes shape for you and from whatever starting point you find yourself in.

Come. Be with Him. Your God, in His lovingkindness, will meet you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stewart weighs in on the House of Prayer

Stewart Black, whom we at Open Door lovingly and admiringly call our official Bible Answer Man, weighs in on the theme of our week of prayer, the house of prayer:

In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul says, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit." If we, as the church of God, are "being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit," then it stands to reason that the things that characterize the place where God dwells should characterize us -- including, among other things, that we should be a house of prayer!

Monday, February 23, 2009


This is a post on some of my own journey with the house of prayer and things the Lord has laid on my heart regarding it. I hope you will take time to read it.

The theme for this year's week of prayer is "I am . . . you are . . . we are . . . the house of prayer." The term "house of prayer" has really morphed and grown for me over the last number of years. I think, quite honestly, that at first it didn't have much meaning for me. I was hearing it everywhere, at all the prayer events, etc., and even though I am passionate about prayer, it had about as much heart connection for me as, "smile, Jesus loves you," or something along those lines. But over the space of several years, God began to draw me into the scriptural references to it, and it became more real: to take shape, to woo me to Jesus, to stir my heart for spiritual community, to make me passionate for us to know the beautiful reality of another truth that is very real and precious to me . . . that Jesus actually resides in me.

As I studied the Bible passages on the house of prayer,* I found such a sense of welcome, unity, joy, purpose. In Isaiah 56:7 God resoundingly declares the nature of His house, of where He chooses to dwell -- "My house shall be called a house of prayer." It is characterized by and identified with prayer. The very nature of it is prayer. But it goes beyond that. It talks about a welcome for and acceptance of "foreigners," which means me, and you, and everyone else, unless you are Jewish, and already part of the "in" crowd. It feels like God is saying, "I set things up a certain way, with My chosen people, to make a point. Now, I am shifting the paradigm, not because I have changed, but because it is time to reveal new things about Myself to you." This passage talks about these welcomed ones finding joy in the house of prayer, which immediately brings to mind the Lord's Presence, the source of joy (Ps. 16:11, 21:6). It also talks about this house of prayer being for ALL peoples. Again, a place of welcome and acceptance.

Let me jump ahead to the Acts and Epistles. Did you know there is no mention of the phrase "house of prayer" there? God does call us His building (I Cor. 3:9), His house (Hebrews 3:6), and in I Peter 2:4-5, which provides an interesting parallel to the Isaiah passage, He says, "you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Anda even though it doesn't say, "house of prayer," we see the early church so explicitly and powerfully living it out together in all they are and do -- they ARE being built together as a synergistic, Holy Spirit-indwelt community of prayer, with that lifestyle of vibrant trust and interactive communion with God being their modus operandi.

In the Gospels, Jesus emphatically re-declares what God has already stated in the Old Testament, and He does it very personally -- "My Father's house shall be called a house of prayer . . ." It is interesting that He does this in the court of the Gentiles -- the place reserved for and associated, again, with "outsiders." The thing that has so deeply captured my heart in this passage is, first of all, Jesus' passion regarding the nature of the temple. It is as if He is saying, "this place is My Father's, and it has a designated purpose, which is being polluted, violated. Anything that is incongruent with that purpose must be cleansed and cast aside; THEN the true nature of what is to happen here is free to happen." And it does; read Matthew 21:12-14. This is the second thing that captures my heart: as soon as the temple's true purpose is declared and cleansed of distractions, Jesus' ministry of compassion pours forth: "And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he he healed them."

As I have prayed and pondered this passage, the Lord keeps drawing the eyes of my heart to that central point in the scene. To me it is epically pivotal. And as I "see" it, it is as if I am watching special effects in a martial arts movie! I am an onlooker, standing in the temple court. At first, I am seeing the temple being cleansed -- tables being turned, money-changers recoiling, Jesus' hair and robes swinging with the motion of His body, the birds being sold for sacrifices flying up out of broken cages, the money boxes spilling open and coins rolling every which way. All of a sudden the motion becomes that high-tech movie slow-motion freeze frame -- coins, birds, people freeze -- all except Jesus, who continues to move in real time. From the center of the scene, He turns to me and looks right into my eyes from across the courtyard: "Are you getting this?" He kindly and pointedly asks. And then, wham, the action resumes -- the blind and lame move forward and He turns from me towards them and begins to minister and heal.

If the passage in Isaiah is God's way of declaring a paradigm shift, then this passage in Matthew seems like a paradigm tsunami. Something radical is happening, all because of this Jesus, this Son of God and Son of Man; because He is at the center of it all; and pretty quickly past this scene in the Gospels, it will be revealed that He is at the core and spiritual center of those who belong to Him . . . meaning you, and me. The narrative of history rushes toward the book of Acts, towards His indwelling of us as believers and as the church, and nothing will ever be the same.

What does this all mean? What is Jesus wanting to say to me, to us? I am not sure, not totally sure I AM "getting it," at least not all of it. I know it is about Him; and about me; and about us; about His passion to see His Father's purpose and design of us, individually and corporately, be fulfilled, that we understand and live out of His indwelling, that the living, right-now ministry of Christ might flow powerfully in and through us. He is wooing and calling us to draw nearer, and to understand deep things about "His Father's house," and about prayer, and about ourselves as His dwelling place, and about Himself, Jesus, alive, passionate and compassionate, at the very center of it all.

The house of prayer is not a physical place or an initiative; it is not a movement or a catch phrase. It is a "spiritual place" of welcome and acceptance and joy and purpose and unity. It is a vibrant realm manifested by the indwelling Spririt of God as He inhabits us individually and in community; as we earnestly and authentically seek and fellowship with Him; and as we live out of the posture of heart of trusting we are who He has truly already designed and called and equipped us to be -- a house of prayer.

* Isaiah 56:6-7; Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:45-48; I Corinthians 3:9; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:4; as well as verses about the Lord abiding and dwelling in us; and verses from Acts and the Epistles on the NT church's lifestyle of community in prayer.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


From the flame on the altar in the temple, representing the prayers of the saints; to Joshua lingering in the Lord’s Presence in the tent of meeting; to Jesus’ 40 days of prayer and fasting in the wilderness, and His nights spent in prayer; to the 100-year prayer meeting of the Moravians in the 18th century; to the modern day 24/7 prayer movement spreading among youth across the world; and back to the book of Acts, where the early church began in a prayer meeting, God’s people have repeatedly been drawn together for extended times in His Presence, alone and with others. 24/7 prayer sets aside a day, a week, or more, during which individuals and groups commit to a time slot to come to the same, set-aside location to be with the Lord.
We are aware of our need of Him, and so we too are setting aside time to be with Him. This year's week of prayer at Open Door will be March 20th-28th, and the theme is The House of Prayer.

The Real Deal

2007 was when we had our first week of non-stop prayer, although we actually started praying for and planning for it in 2006. A young man in our fellowship, Christopher Sugata, was very instrumental in bringing the passion behind it to our body. He had heard Pete Greig speak in person at a conference and also been deeply touched by his book, Red Moon Rising. Christopher said, “I have read better written books on prayer, but I’ve never read one that touched me so deeply.” We met with the elders and proposed a week of non-stop prayer, and much to our surprise they not only agreed, but suggested that while we were at it, we might as well do it right and use the sanctuary to have it in!

It was an awesome season of preparation and the week of prayer exceeded all our expectations, as God met with us so powerfully and sweetly. His Presence was so tangible, and it was as if He exposed our dryness and need of Him and opened up a spring in our midst, to minister the Living Water to us. At the end of the first week, we felt Him moving us to extend it another week, and He continued to bless and minister to us and touch our hearts. Many of us said “our lives were changed” during that time, as He revealed Himself to us in personal and intimate ways like never before.

If you go all the way back to the very first blog entries on this site, you will see they are from that time, and describe the making of many of the “prayer stations” that were created for that first year’s week(s) of prayer.

Baby Steps to Non-Stop Prayer

Over the years, God had led me to incorporate a number of prayer initiatives into the life of our fellowship, for various times and various reasons. Looking back, although at the time we would have never felt ourselves ready for a week of non-stop prayer, God was actually nonetheless preparing us, little by little, baby step by baby step, for just that.

We encouraged our body to pray for our elders when they went on retreat, and one particularly critical year, I asked our body to sign up for round-the-clock prayer for that two-and-half days that the elders were together. People could pray at their own homes or wherever they were, and the time slots were only 15 minutes long. Our body responded; we prayed; and God worked!

Another time, the elders impressed the body with the need to pray for two critical issues: the purchase of a piece of property for our new church location (we were meeting in a school – and tired of it!), and the recruitment of a new “senior leader”. I asked the body to consider committing to one day of prayer and fasting regarding these issues during that time. Day after day that whole season of several months was filled with people making that commitment.

Over the years, we also had several overnight times of worship and prayer in our church sanctuary. In 2006, we stretched it out a little further, and had a three day special event over Easter weekend, starting on Good Friday with the traditional service, and then an additional service after, followed by a worship time around a bonfire out on our property. The sanctuary was open from then through Sunday am, Easter morning, and people were able to come and go during this time for prayer and meditation, as well as some additional times of worship, followed by a wonderful Easter morning service and baptisms. The theme of the weekend was, “To Be With Him,” and even that name was designed to encourage our body to begin to see prayer as more than just the “saying of prayers” but as being with Jesus.

There were a number of times when I asked God about us doing a longer, even week-long, round-the-clock prayer event; I remember in particular several conversations Ryan Thurman and I had about it; but it never seemed like the right time . . . yet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Everything you wanted to know about 24/7 prayer at Open Door, but were afraid to . . . oh, you get the idea!

Pictured above - Count Zinzendorf
Our week of non-stop prayer for 2009, or “24/7” as we call it, is coming up soon! It has been such an amazing and beautiful time for our body the last two years, and yet there are many at Open Door who have never been, and probably are not really sure what it even is or entails. And, there are probably others of us, who although we have participated, still have some questions. The next few posts will give some background as we move forward towards this years’ week of prayer.

The idea of God’s people praying together, one after another, hour by hour, is nothing new. Here is a link to a brief historical overview – it’s worth taking a quick look at, especially the info on Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians: http://www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=1000013642 This link is from the website of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO, where there has been non-stop worship and prayer, yes, NON-STOP, 24/7/365, ever since September 19th, 1999.

Ironically, during the same month that year, God was doing something very similar and yet unique in England, where, as the http://www.24-7prayer.com/ website tells it, for them, “24-7 prayer started by accident in September 1999, with a bunch of young people in England who got the crazy idea of trying to pray non-stop for a month. God turned up and they couldn't stop til Christmas!” It goes on to say: “From there the prayer meeting has spread into many nations, denominations and age-groups. Hundreds of non-stop prayer meetings now link up here on the web to form a unique chain of prayer. “ The story of this modern day movements’ origins is told in founder Pete Greig’s compelling book, Red Moon Rising. It is well worth reading; also check out the 24-7prayer.com website for a broader view of the global 24/7 movement among youth around the world in our day.

So how did it get to Open Door? Read the next post above . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thank you Lord for meeting with us!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our day of prayer, and Sacred Space for January. It was a neat time to be with the Lord in the peace of the sanctuary. I loved the quiet, holy, familiar feeling during the late night hours, the stillness and the Presence of the Lord. We also had a wonderful time of live worship Friday night. Thanks to Betty and Lori, both from other valley churches, who signed up for an hour during our day/night of prayer. It was also a sweet time of preparation for our team as we look ahead to our WEEK of 24/7 prayer in March! More info on that coming . . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Join us for our new Sunday morning "non-class," 9:45 during second hour in F1.
Each month we will open up a new exchange of ideas, questions, hopes and truths regarding our own journeys of seeking to know God through prayer.

january -- honesty
february -- relationship
march -- community

It's the prayer class for those of us who don't like classes . . . and aren't too sure about prayer either.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

24-hour Prayer this week at Open Door

24 hours of non-stop prayer at the start of the new year – at Open Door Fellowship -- Thursday, Jan. 8th, 7 pm, through Friday, Jan. 9th at 7pm.

Please join us as we begin the year by coming to the Lord on behalf of our own lives and loved ones, our churches, cities, state, nation and world. By His grace, He is revealing our need of Him, and the only response is to come into His Presence, call on Him and rest in His love and power.

This is also part of AZPray’s http://www.litethefire.org/Welcome 24/7 prayer initiative again this year throughout the state of Arizona. They are desiring to start 2009's year of prayer by having a different church from a different area in AZ take one day each of the first full week of the year, January 2nd through January 9th. Open Door has been asked to take one of the 24-hour slots, representing Phoenix.

We will be hosting non-stop prayer for 24 hours, from Thursday night, Jan. 8th at 7pm, until the next night, Friday, Jan. 9th at 7pm, at Open Door Fellowship.

Please sign up for an hour time slot to come to ODF and pray by commenting below. This is such a wonderful opportunity for our own fellowship to be in prayer, and also to welcome and partner with others from around our city as well by opening our doors to this 24-hours of prayer.

ALSO: Overlapping the end of our 24 hours of prayer will be the start of our January Sacred Space, which will be Friday the 9th from 6pm to 10pm. Our theme will be JESUS - THE SAME, yesterday, today and forever! Join us for a contemplative atmosphere of soft lighting, simple prayer stations, and live worship, where you can come and go as you please for a time of personal worship, prayer and interaction with the Lord.