We were invited to Holton Lee by Frank & Jenny. Some eleven of us met and talked with seven Christians from the local area who are involved with, or wanted to learn more about, Local Houses of Prayer (LHoPs).
Church leader Heather shared how a realisation three years ago that her neighbours were not being touched by the church deepened her desire to see God move at grass roots level. She learned of the work of God at Ffald-y-Brenin in north Pembrokeshire, a retreat and prayer centre from which renewal and blessing, both spiritual and physical, has come to that area and more widely, to Wales and beyond. In a DVD, Roy Godwin, the director, talked about the rhythm of prayer (four times per day) that is at the heart of their life together, and how new patterns of prayer have led to mission developing throughout the UK, through LHoPs. Heather and her colleague Jo talked of their experience of starting a LHoP in the Poole area.
So what is an LHoP? It is not: yet another prayer meeting, a house group or cell group, or a teaching group.
It is a gathering of people committed to seeing God break out in power in the local community, in a place where you live or work or study (or could be online?), something with both personal/individual and corporate components, focused on a locality, and an outworking of the idea that small persons in small places can change the world.
In small groups we were asked to consider what changes we might see or wish to see in our area if God moved in power among us.
How do LHoPs work? Individually they pray for 5 people, for 5 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for minimum 5 weeks.
Corporately they meet once/week for 60-75 minutes, have minimum 2 people, preferably 3 or more, pray for an area, have worship & testimony time, speak blessing on community (including churches and local area) and the individuals in the 5s, and seek God on where to extend the ministry opportunities he provides.
Daily individual prayer uses sections of the Lord’s Prayer as themes. The speaking of blessing on people and situations is seen as part of our ministry as priests (cf charge to Levi in Deut 10:8; 1 Peter 2), and can use BLESS as a reminder of aspects to consider (Body, Emotional, Social, Spiritual).
The focus of LHoPs has the presence of God at its centre, and also includes intercession, blessing and engagement (ie action). Groups develop a necessary trust in each other, and experience is that prophetic intervention can be expected. Prayer is not passive, and its outworking involves those who are praying.
We talked about some of the practical issues that LHoPs bring up, and were showed some examples of local projects that have developed as a result of LHoPs in the Poole and Swanage areas. A key to their functioning is the unity of believers for the particular place, and which a focus on growth in particular churches seems to impede; this may relate to people too busy with church matters being cited LHoPs have not thrived.
Finally, before tea and journeys home we were encouraged to bless each other.
In my notes for the day, I find a comment: “God is all-powerful. But it is apparent that things don’t happen as if that were the case. So – we are needed. How do we participate?” LHoPs may form part of the answer. They also seem to be part of walking at God’s pace and being part of what is happening around us. Which links to our August weekend...