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.