Home – a Place of Encounter

Lisa Milner-Smith and her family made the decision last year to host a prayer room for their local area in their own home. Lisa shares their story here.

“In 2017 I was granted annual leave for the week after I had requested. I had a decision to make – to be offended or to believe that God must have a plan. I waited and then into my Facebook feed came the advert for the annual 24-7 Prayer Gathering in Birmingham. It was going to take place in October during the week I had off!

Having been inspired by Pete Greig’s books, I had been searching for a prayer room and thought that perhaps if I went to this conference there would be one I could go along to there. So I booked a B&B, got a great deal on a train fare and looked forward to heading to Birmingham. I asked God for a companion at the place I was staying and for the opportunity to meet folk from Scotland who had the same vision. Sure enough, God provided another woman who was staying where I was staying, but it was remarkable just how many people I met who were either Scottish or living in Scotland! By the third person I introduced myself to, I began to realise this was no coincidence!

The culmination of all these Scottish encounters happened at the evening celebration held in a club. I was standing against a wall on my own and round the corner came a lady who asked if the auction had started yet… in a Scottish accent. She invited me to join her group and I found myself included in the Scottish contingent’s assignment to outdo everyone else in the denim jacket auction (this auction happens at every Gathering to raise funds for various individuals, communities and projects with the 24-7 Prayer family)!

Then on the way home I was even sitting at the same table as two other ladies who had been at the conference. It was obvious that God was encouraging me onwards.
A few weeks later I visited one of these ladies, Debbie Meehan who leads Prayer Spaces in Schools in Scotland, to see the space in her home that she sometimes allows her church to use as a prayer room. I was inspired and wondered aloud if I could convert the basement in our house to a prayer room. My family had come with me to see this prayer room and in that place together we felt that we could aim to hold a prayer room in our basement during the upcoming Easter week.
My prayer partner and her family helped with ideas and man power. We registered on the 24-7 Prayer website and started advertising. It took a while for people to sign up, but in the end I was overwhelmed by how many people came and were blessed.

‘We were indeed blessed. There was a very powerful presence of God and we could have stayed for ages. I didn’t know what would happen when I brought the children but they were also affected. If in half an hour we got so much from it I’ve no doubt your Easter must have been transformed. Please do keep on doing prayer rooms.’

‘God bless you and your household for opening your house for prayer this Holy Week to pray for our nation. I attended yesterday afternoon with my friend… His Presence was all around in that basement room. It was a precious time.’

‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience the peace and presence of God in your beautiful room of tranquillity. It was an awesome time of prayer and reflection.’

‘There was a great sense of peace and an “Open Heaven,” in the room. 
Early on Saturday I was asking the Lord for a Word to share on Easter 
Sunday in our Church, and He directed me to an unusual scripture which was perfect, this really blessed me. I spent most of the rest of the day developing it; but receiving the Word in the first place is the most important aspect and it came while I was in the prayer room in the middle of the night.’

My own family have also benefited from having access to the prayer room, both during that week and in the weeks following the event. We have all found ourselves in there spending time in God’s word and praying more than previously. It also brought together a number of the young folk in the church for a time of prayer and worship.
The highlight for me though was how the prayer room brought together folk from a number of different churches and how all who visited – Christian and those yet to encounter God – spoke of His presence in the place.

Lisa is a mid-wife living with her family of four in Renfrewshire. When asked if they would be doing another prayer room, they responded, “Roll on, Easter 2019!”

The Overflow

I have been going to the 24-7 Prayer annual Gatherings since 2008 and every time I am inspired, convicted, challenged, encouraged. Every time I come away with that warm glow that comes from deep, heart-to-heart chats with dear friends whom I only see once a year because we live in different nations, even different continents. And every year that list of friends grows significantly. This also means that I return home exhausted and bleary-eyed yet my soul is refreshed and my spirit strengthened.

The Overflow, 24-7 Prayer’s 2018 EuroGathering in Vienna, was no different. Yet something was different. There was a fullness this year that is hard to put into words. But with the help of some other Scots who were also there, I shall try.

 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” 2 Corinthians 5:18

When you look at the life, ministry, teaching and parables of Jesus I think there is one overarching theme, one word that summarises – reconciliation. What I see in the Great Story of Scripture is God’s longing and plan for the reconciliation of all things, especially relationships – relationship with Him, with one another and even ourselves.

And what we saw and experienced at #Vienna18 was an overflow of unity and reconciliation.

Lal Dhillon of Glasgow shares, “The thing that still stands out the most in my mind is the joy that I found in entering into prayer, worship and community with other Christians from diverse places. It was a real privilege to be part of the 24-7 family in such a real and authentic way.”

And Kenny Roy of Edinburgh shared how his wife Tricia and he felt such a part of it all, part of the family even though it was their first ever Gathering. “I suppose in some ways we were the odd ones out in that we aren’t directly involved in running a prayer room or the like, yet we didn’t ever feel left out. We felt welcomed in and valued and part of the wider 24-7 Prayer family. It was really special.”

There were times of reconciliation with ourselves and with God, where we were challenged and called back to the main vision – Jesus Himself. One of these challenges came on the final morning from Adam Heather and this statement I will not easily forget:

“We have always been a Presence people. Will we remain a Presence people? It’s hard to live sacrificial when you’re concerned with the superficial.”

There were times of encouragement and inspiration, where hope for the reconciliation of all things was reignited and renewed within us. “We hope from the future into the present and it gives us strength”– Pete Greig

But for me the most powerful reconciliation was represented in two particular evenings, alongside the beautiful partnership across the Gathering between 24-7 and the Austrian Catholic youth movement Loretto.

What God spoke on the Thursday evening resulted in an extended time of shared repentance, forgiveness, prayers of blessing and renewed commitment to one another as Protestants and Catholics. It was a stunning moment.

The Friday night in the Cathedral involved a beautiful flow and interweaving of the more contemplative, sensory, adoration style of worship and prayer of our Catholic family with the slightly more energetic, earnest, celebrative style that we would associate more with 24-7. And all this in the midst of many who had not yet met Jesus, watching the broken Body of Christ become one before their very eyes.

“…he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:20 – 23

Healey Rosweir from Edinburgh (originally from Northern Ireland) shares, “My highlight of the Gathering was the resounding cry for unity – seeing the reconciliation I’ve always wanted to see in action and within that, seeing the glimmer of the Kingdom of God!

Over those 4 days we experienced a portion of the fullness of God that exists only where the Body of Jesus enters into the ministry of reconciliation with Him and we allow Him to build us “together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:14-22).

And this is just the beginning.

If you want to make certain you don’t miss next year’s Gathering, which will be hosted in Belfast, then good news – early bird tickets are already on sale! Maybe even consider giving someone a ticket as a Christmas gift. Click here for more information.