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24/7 Prayer: An Introduction

24/7 prayer is cropping up in many places from different sources. Some know it from Kansas City’s International House of Prayer (IHOP) led by Mike Bickle, where it takes on the flavour of charismatic and prophetic prayer. Some know it from Lou Engle’s TheCall, massive gatherings for fasting and prayer. Some know it from the British 24/7 Prayer movement spearheaded by Peter Grieg. All of it reflects a hunger for the God who meets us in the intimacy of prayer, and a hunger to see God act powerfully in our time. For encouragement, watch the Campus America video, about the project to cover U.S. campuses in prayer through 2010. Look past the focus on America and on campuses, and see the heart for prayer in the generation we are called to nurture. Join us, and pray it into being.

What is 24/7 prayer?
As the idea suggests, it is praying 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In some places it is also 365 days a year. (IHOP has been praying non-stop for over a decade.) In different movements this is done in different ways. The approach Woodstock YFC/Youth Unlimited is championing is that of the 24/7 Prayer movement, which divides the day up into 1-hour shifts and people sign up for a block of time that fits their schedule. So an individual might sign up for 1 or 2 hours to be alone with God in the prayer room, or a group might sign up together for an evening of prayer. In this way, filling the day with prayer or a week with prayer is a project that a group, a church, or a community of churches takes on together in a spirit of shared mission.

For prayer is a mission. Indeed, it is the most foundational task of the church — to wait upon God for power and direction. Without it, we degenerate into mere religion — human programs done in our own strength, accomplishing only what we are capable of. Mere religion misses the presence of God, because it does need the presence of God. Prayer is how we relinquish what we can do in our own strength, handing the reins over to our Father, inviting and begging Him to do what He alone is capable of.

24/7 prayer is a new culture of prayer, which comes naturally to younger people (or younger at heart). Unlike traditional prayer of sitting with head bowed, talking to God, 24/7 prayer has a larger palette to pray with. It may be listening prayer, or “divine reading” (reading Scripture meditatively), or writing prayer as a poem, painting it as a picture, singing it as a song. It is artistic, creative, intimate, expressive. It is about whatever opens your heart wide to God so that you speak your heart more truly and hear God’s heart more readily. Try watching What is 24/7 Prayer?

Central to the project of 24/7 prayer is that there is a single prayer room where the praying community goes to bring this project to life. In Woodstock, Youth for Christ has built this prayer room at 405 Dundas St. If you drive by, it looks decrepit and abandoned. There is no sign above the door and For Sale signs in the window. But when it is open, if you walk to the very back of the building, there is a homey room being transformed into a refuge for prayer.

Why a Central Prayer Room?
Why not just have people take turns praying in the comfort of their own home? The prayer room is a key strength of the 24/7 prayer project. A space can become sacred, rich in God’s felt presence, evoking passion, creativity, joy, intimacy. As days go by in the prayer room, people are adding their encouragement, prayers, insights, and art on the chalkboard that makes up the one wall. People are adding their God stories to the storybook on the coffee table. As a church community, one by one we will find that sharing each other’s prayers, encouragement, and God stories will start weaving one story of the work of God in Woodstock. In this way a shared location will give a sense of being one community, one body of Christ, with one heart for God and one mission we are called to — to shine the light of our Father’s glory for all to see.

Furthermore, there is accountability in needing to show up to receive the baton from the previous prayer shift, and this helps clarify that the 24/7 project is a mission, like watchmen standing in the gap to own the task of prayer on behalf of the body of Christ. This is the true front line in the trench warfare against the darkness that expresses itself in Woodstock’s drug addictions, teen pregnancies, welfare rates, and so on.

Finally, having a sacred space in the secular city provides a place where people who have come to hate God can find Him again. There are stories of lapsed Christians coming to the prayer room to have it out with God, only to be broken and to fall in love with Him.

We invite you, we challenge you to take up this project of prayer with us. And then watch as God draws a fresh light into Woodstock through the prayers of His people.