More Growth at the Vine

Here’s a post from Matt Lowe about The Vine prayer room in Hamilton, Ontario. Thanks Matt!

Prayer in the Vine
At the corner of Vine and Park Street North, behind Philpott Memorial Church, life in the Vine keeps growing. The Greater Ontario House of Prayer (GOHOP) has partnered with TrueCity to run 24/7 prayer rooms in the Vine building at the end of February these past two years. In May, Philpott gave them use of the space to run a prayer room on a more permanent basis. Recently, Jill Weber, Director of GOHOP — or “Abbess of the Urban Monastery,” as she says with a characteristic giggle — shared her excitement about the continued growth that she sees happening in this prayer room which has taken on Philpott’s name for the building–The Vine.

Different churches and traditions are interacting freely and wonderfully here. For Jill, part of the beauty of The Vine is that it offers extended hours, allowing time for many kinds of prayer: any given day may feature quiet and contemplative prayer, lectio divina, Benedictine worship traditions, or an African approach to spiritual warfare. In keeping with Ephesians 6:18 (“pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” NIV), the experience of… … these and other prayer traditions serves to “expand people’s prayer vocabulary, by ‘cross-pollinating,’ ” Jill observes. For example, she recalls one participant saying that while he doesn’t pray in tongues, he loves being around people who do — an admission of hospitality for the practice of different forms of prayer in one another’s presence. One benefit of “trying to swim in somebody else’s stream” in this way, Jill added, is an introduction to a style of prayer that may be ancient, yet refreshing to those unfamiliar with it.

Jill highlighted weekly points when prayer takes specific directions. On Tuesday afternoons, participants invite a local pastor to be prayed for in an extended way. On Thursdays, between 10 AM and noon, they pray for the lost; those who gather for such a time tend to be evangelical in orientation, but others join in too. Where individual churches might not find enough members to sustain a group focused on a shared interest in prayer, such as the plight of the persecuted church, The Vine offers a place for just that purpose — or to pray for at-risk youth at the nearby Living Rock (www.livingrock.ca), where Jill reports that at least five denominations have been represented among those who gather to pray.

Jill emphasized that although much of The Vine’s prayer life is for the good of the city, it is ultimately about the person of Jesus. Central to faith and practice there “is our radical adoration of and radical obedience to this man…today, Jesus looked like a young First Nations man who sat for nearly an hour while we prayed, arms covered with scars from self-harm; at the end of that hour, when asked whether the group could pray for him, he agreed.” Walk-in encounters like this happen almost every day, often because of a simple sign in front of the building: “Need Prayer?”

Jill and other frequent participants at the prayer room are looking forward to two weeks of non-stop, 24/7 prayer, February 22 – March 8, in conjunction with TrueCity’s 2013 conference. “We had to spread out from one week to solve the problem of overcrowding in the evenings,” she laughs. “And it allows momentum to build from week to week, too.” She has been working with several individuals who are developing prayer stations for that time, focused on geographical areas of the city (West Hamilton, James St. North, Concession St. etc.). She hopes to expand The Vine’s hours soon to be open all day, every day, including later on weekends, the better to serve those who find themselves in need of prayer.

The prayer room in The Vine is currently open

Mondays from 8-4,
Tuesdays from 12-4,
Wednesdays from 8-12,
Thursdays and Fridays 8-4
Saturdays 12-4

A fuller calendar for The Vine and other GOHOP events can be found on their website, www.gohop.ca.


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