Wednesday, 27 June 2012

IHOP's 24/7 Prayer room

I've been somewhat skeptical of some modern adaptations of the sacred - online church, drive-in church etc. So the idea of a 24/7 prayer room being streamed into your house via the internet didn't immediately strike me as a very blessed idea. However, as they often say in the more obscure sushi bars, "don't knock what you haven't tried".

Several months ago I made a brief investigation into the IHOP Prayer Room and now I think it's absolutely fantastic!

A little bit more information about it:
The Prayer Room is a centre for 24/7 prayer based in Kansas City (which, to my surprise, is not in Kansas). The focus of the Prayer Room, however, is worship. Worship bands are on a rota to play two-hour stints, so there is literally continuous worship happening day and night. There are also specific times of intercession. You can either watch a live video feed from the Prayer Room, or listen to the audio, as I am doing right now.

Don't actually click this - it won't do anything.

The first time I ever tuned in I was a bit underwhelmed by the amount of people that seemed to be in the room. I thought, "surely if IHOP are investing so much into this, there ought to be more people using all those chairs - I can only see about 40." And then I realised that due to the time difference between Kansas City and Shrewsbury, UK, I was watching worship taking place at about 5 am.

And this leads me on to the reasons why I think this is such a great thing:
- Any time of day or night, you can join in with other Christians worshipping Jesus. I know that it's not exactly "being a part of" the event to watch it on your PC screen, but there's something about knowing it's happening right now that engages me. It's better than just sticking a CD on.
- The Prayer Room is a good model of worship. Not that many churches can implement the same kind of 24/7 worship with bands of 14 musicians. But the whole ethos is, in my opinion, really admirable. It's easy to tell that their aim is absolutely not to get through a list of songs, but instead is all about encountering the presence of God. There is no pressure of "getting somewhere", but a real sense of waiting on God and enjoying Him in the moment. The Spirit looks to be in charge here. They use scripture, are spontaneous and creative.

Anyway, I hope you'll go and check it out now. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Gram Seed in Shrewsbury

Last week I had the privilege of hearing Gram Seed speak to 800 young people in two secondary schools, as well as to a wider assortment of folk at two evening events. Gram tells an amazing story (I heard it eight times in total, and it didn't get tedious) of how he was transformed from a violent criminal into a compassionate follower of Jesus. (See a local minister's take on the first evening event).

I was thinking about the word "testimony" recently. It's a peculiar word, one that you either hear in court or in church. I was on the verge of consigning "testimony" to my Christian jargon bin, until someone pointed out that its more than a fancy word for "story". To testify means to bear witness about, to give evidence in order to establish a fact.

In other words, while my "story" is all about me, my "testimony" is not all about me - it is simply my account of the things I've seen. A Christian's testimony is evidence that points toward Jesus.

Hearing Gram's testimony, I wonder what those who doubt God's existence, love and saving power must think of it. In a similar vein to C.S. Lewis's 'Lunatic, liar or Lord' principle, they must think Gram is either deluded or deliberately lying to people. The only other option is that the story is true.

While we may not be able to satisfy the demands of some to see proof of God's existence, there is a lot of weight in a testimony.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dave Walker is on fire (in a good way)

Some of his recent works have been fantastic. Check them out at cartoonchurch.com.

(Click to see a bigger version of this exemplary piece).