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.

Introducing Kathryn

You may have noticed recently that 24-7 Prayer Scotland has our first ever intern. And she is smashing it! We thought you should all get to know her a bit better as you will be seeing her around more and quite likely receiving some emails from her. Here she is.

Hello, everyone,
I thought I’d officially introduce myself. I’m Kathryn and over this coming year I am interning with 24-7 Prayer Scotland. 

What does that mean? It means I spend one day a week working alongside Crystal in our office space in Edinburgh: organising, doing admin, helping with our social media platforms and helping to tell your stories about prayer. I also get the privilege of traveling around Scotland, seeing what is going on with prayer in this beautiful country.
Apart from interning I am also a postgraduate student, studying Career Guidance at Napier University.

I first got involved with 24-7 Prayer four years ago when my church in Edinburgh sent a two-week Mission Team out to work with 24-7 Ibiza.
24-7 Ibiza is a missional expression of 24-7 Prayer in the heart of the clubbing community of San Antonio. The work partners time spent in the prayer room with offering prayer and night time street assistance to those on the streets of the West End.

I cannot say I loved that first year in Ibiza – it was challenging and pushed me far out of my comfort zone. However, after a few months back home I could not shake Ibiza from my mind, and I found myself drawn back, not for two weeks, but rather for two or three months at a time.
Like I said, I really did not love that first year. I was probably the least qualified person possible, with a fear of vomit and not even confident in praying out loud in front of other people.
However, and far more importantly, during those two weeks I learned how to pray, how to intercede for what was going on around me and I was hearing from God for myself, the island and back home. Praying for strangers on the streets was not an occasional occurrence, rather it was the norm and so was God answering prayers and moving in the situations around us. It has made me come to the conclusion that prayer is pretty important; in fact, it is the bedrock of my faith. I began to think, how can anything come to be if we are not on our knees petitioning for it, spending time with our Father or listening to his gentle stirring voice?

After getting back from Ibiza last year I heard of a new community group at my church centred on the values of 24-7 Prayer and I immediately joined. What I found was family; a family with a desire to learn and pray together for anything and everything under the sun. Through this I met Crystal and learned more about 24-7 Prayer outside of Ibiza, specifically in Scotland. I realised that the God I saw moving so powerfully in Ibiza was the same God in Scotland and He appeared to be moving here too!

In its most simplistic form I am interning with 24-7 Prayer Scotland because I’m pretty fond of Scotland, it’s my home, and its beauty and brokenness has a tight grip on my heart. I also love prayer, as prayer connects us to the heart of God. And when mission and justice are centred first and foremost in prayer – there is a shift in the atmosphere. And when this occurs in the arms of a praying community, united in faith and hope – well, breakthrough is likely to be right around the corner!

My House Shall Be A House Of Prayer

There is a beautiful statement from the revivalist of the 1800’s, Charles G. Finney, that says, “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

We were privileged to be witness to this truth while with two different prayer communities last weekend – one in Irvine and one in Dundee.

Jill Weber, Director of Houses of Prayer at 24-7 Prayer and Global Convenor of the Order of the Mustard Seed, made her way north to join us at 24-7 Prayer Scotland in visiting these two incredible communities.

If you were at the 24-7 Prayer Scotland Gathering this past February, you would have a heard a bit from both of these communities. We will also be sharing more of their stories and vision for the future on this blog site later this year so watch this space!

But in this story, we want to focus in on the beauty of the relationships within these communities.

The Irvine team are from different congregations, even different denominations, but for a good few years now they have been praying and working together to serve the local churches through facilitating some of the most creative prayer rooms you will ever see (one even included an actual boat!) and teaching others how to run a 24-7 prayer week. They have facilitated unity in prayer time and again amongst the churches in Irvine and they are able to do this because of the unity in which they walk with one another.
For this team, the task, the vision is not the most important thing but rather relationship – relationship with God and with one another. They care for one another, look out for one another and they draw near to God in prayer before stepping out into anything. As a result, their hearts are overwhelmed with God’s love for one another and for their community, especially for the young people and for those without community to look after them. They are actively seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the lonely, broken and hurting in their community and are now dreaming around some new ideas and ways to engage even more.
One of those ideas is what could it look like for Irvine to have a House of Prayer, thus Jill’s little visit. And we are so excited to be asking that question with them as we reflect on these words from Scripture, “and My house shall be a house of prayer.”

Prayer Space Dundee began asking that question a while ago and the answer is beginning to take shape, though it is still very much like a part-finished picture on an artist’s canvas.
Again, what was beautiful to see was the interweaving of relationships – some new, some old but each with a sense of call into this network of relationships known as Prayer Space Dundee.
Some are local church leaders, some are in the medical profession, some are involved in schools, some in counselling and play/drama/art therapy, some in social enterprises – like providing jobs for people while teaching them to bake bread. Sound like a modern day monastic community? You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that! And to top it off, they meet for prayer in the wee chapel of Dundee’s old Franciscan Friary!
As we prayed and ate together, God’s presence and delight was palpable, as well as an overwhelming sense of hope and expectation for Dundee.
While waiting for the train that would carry us back home, our attention was captured by a wee paper with the words, “The Dawn of A New Era for Dundee” – we couldn’t agree more!
And we are convinced that this dawn has been brought about by the fervent, persistent, unified prayers of the ordinary, everyday saints of Dundee as they have responded to His call and allowed Him to begin building them into His House of Prayer.

*If you would like to connect with one of these communities, they would be happy to connect with you. For Prayer Space Dundee simply go to their webpage prayerspacedundee.org and for Irvine contact us here at 24-7 Prayer Scotland we will connect you.