As I traveled from nation to nation on the Doulos, upon arrival in a new country we would often have a great welcome from the people of that city. In New Zealand we experienced a special dance from the Maori Indians. It was quite impressive, and one I will never forget. At the end of that unique tribal dance, the staff and crew of our ship received a beautiful lei of flowers around their neck and the Maori greeting of rubbing noses. It was quite a cultural experience for many of us, I can assure you.
In other countries we had special greetings unique to each culture—everything from other cultural dances, gifts, songs, and banners—that were a beautiful welcome for the ship into their unique city. It made all of us on board feel very welcome in that country and city. It made us deeply desire to stay there and interact with the people.
Perhaps God feels the same way.
When He sees His people eagerly pray for His presence, and welcome Him into their city day and night in prayer, He is delighted and wants to invade that city with His presence. When He sees your desperate cry for His presence, He feels like a welcomed and longed-for guest. He wants to make your city His home.
Begin now to prepare the way for God’s Kingdom and presence in your city. Start with increasing your prayer life, and find a few others who have a vision for transformation in your city. Get together regularly; God will lead you and add others to your prayer meetings. Transformation will occur in your lives, and you will become consumed with a hunger for God’s presence. The Lord will hear your cry for your city, and God will begin to move in your midst.
Early in our month of 24/7 prayer in Spain, God made his presence known to us in a very special way. There was no rain outside; it was completely dry. As I was having my prayer time early in the morning, I suddenly looked out the window and there in the sky surrounding the House of Prayer was a bright rainbow. It was as if God was speaking to me and saying:
“My desire is for citywide, united prayer, and I love your House of Prayer. Keep it up for I shall surely come with my presence—I have heard your cry.”
It is time that we change our lifestyles and become desperate for God and His ways. We must be willing to do this and put God first. It is time that we welcome His Kingdom into our neighborhoods, our cities, and our nations.
“To be desperate means to be without hope in your current condition and to know that in your own power you don’t have the necessary resources required to change it. People who are desperate become determined to find help, often taking great risks to meet their desperate need. In the communities where transforming revival has occurred, the people of God were desperate enough to change their lifestyle and their priorities and to commit their time and resources, making everything secondary to the desperate pursuit of God in their midst. They cried out in desperation, and the Lord heard their cry.” Rhonda Hughey
Preparing the Prayer Room for the King
Every person is different, but we all need to find those people and places that enable us to re-center on Christ regularly, so that the reflex reaction of our lives remains prayerful all the time. A season of 24-7 prayer provides a place, a time, a context, and a catalyst for this conscious and persistent prayer to continue, both individually and corporately. The prayer room is a picture of constant activity in the heart of every believer. It helps us maintain the flame of worship on the altar of our lives. We leave the prayer room encouraged and enabled to keep on praying consciously and subconsciously through the trials of the day ahead… A regular hour in a 24-7 prayer room is both an expression of and an inspiration for a lifestyle of continual prayer.7
Preparing a place for the King of kings, the Creator of the universe to come and dwell, is an awesome privilege. We should take great care in such a wonderful undertaking. We want the prayer room to enable every person to center on Christ, and maintain a flame of worship that carries them through the ups and downs of daily life outside the prayer room. We just looked at the initial steps in starting a one-month House of Prayer. You may wonder:
- Ok, we understand how to get started, but what do we do about the prayer room?
- How do we create an atmosphere of prayer?
- How do we decorate the prayer room attractively so people want to come to pray?
- What should it look like so that it attracts God’s presence?
Again, I am giving examples of what we did in Spain as well as other places. This is a long section because there’s so much to say, but the details are quite important. It’s God’s prayer room, and you want it to be designed in such a way that it uniquely glorifies Him in your city.
The most important key throughout the whole preparation phase is to seek God together with other like-minded people. Pray about every detail and every need. As I already mentioned, before our one-month House of Prayer in Virginia, a group of people got together to pray every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5:30-7:30 A.M. to prepare for it. We prayed about everything again and again. We brought before the Lord our hearts and our desires for our city and the entire region. We prayed about every need.
As we started, God put everything together just in time. It was as if we were flying the plane as we built it. This takes faith because everything did not fall into place as early as we would have liked. But it kept our dependence level high and our prayers fervent.
God knows every need and is fully aware of every challenge in setting up a House of Prayer.
As we look back to these initial times, we are amazed at how God worked things out even at the last moment. We must learn to depend fully on Him because only He can work out the details. It is God who makes things grow in the spiritual realm.
At the time I wrote this chapter, we were working towards three simultaneous one-month Houses of Prayer. You can imagine how completely dependent we were on God to work it out in all three cities. But as we fervently prayed, God gave us guidance. We simply obeyed His leading step-by-step.
We also met together regularly with the prayer leaders in these locations and kept in close connection, but it was totally up to God to work out all the details and answer our prayers. Although we didn’t have 24/7 prayer going continuously in all three locations, we felt it was successful anyway. Our faith grew through the tests we faced during that time.
More prayer in a city is a big success to God.
As you think about developing your prayer room, realize that there are so many ways to make a prayer room attractive and stimulating for prayer. There are no rules as long as it is conducive to prayer. The following is an example of what we did in Spain.
When we first saw the prayer room, we knew we were in for a great challenge. Everything was a mess, but we found that God could transform almost anything into a beautiful place of prayer. Hopefully this will help you to take the necessary steps in setting up the House of Prayer in your city.
How to Develop the Prayer Room
A prayer room needs to provide privacy and be closed off from outside distractions. It should be comfortable, with a pleasant atmosphere—an inviting place to enjoy the Lord’s presence. It’s important that it be safely accessible 24 hours a day, with a telephone and preferably a separate outside entrance that is well lighted and has a combination lock. It should be inspirational and should have helpful information displayed to guide people as they pray.8
To summarize a few very important suggestions, think about the following: When choosing a place to pray, make sure your prayer room is easy to get to and doesn’t require complex directions. Do you want to be seen by others, and is it a safe place at night? Remember that some will be traveling at night so safety is an important issue. It’s good not to have people praying alone at night, but there are exceptions. What about privacy?
Is the room big enough for people to walk around or pace back and forth? Some prayer warriors like to walk or wave banners as they pray. Is it big enough for groups but still intimate in atmosphere for one person? You may want a medium-sized room with dividers or theme areas of prayer. A larger room next to a smaller room is ideal for flexibility. Do you need a telephone nearby in case of emergency? Is there a rest-room? Is it neighbor-friendly? What about the noise level or loud music with noisy intercessors? Here at IHOPKC many wear earplugs. Different ages like different volumes of music.
All of these practical details are important to discuss as you plan your House of Prayer. Also think about the following suggestions:
- Pray and look for the right place. Praying for the right location added a lot to the success of our month of prayer in Spain. There were several factors associated with this: An emblem of the Spanish culture, the Hotel Solana is a two hundred year old hacienda, very rustic in appearance. It became a sign and a wonder from the Lord because prior to our initiative, most did not know of its existence. The possibility of its use would have been remote. People enjoyed being there because they were surrounded by nature, light, and the green outdoors. It was a central location, easy to access from any direction. There were large rooms for eating and fellowship, and a smaller one off to the back that was used as the 24/7 prayer room.
- Have a warm, friendly, and inviting atmosphere outside the prayer room. The atmosphere outside the prayer room was friendly and welcoming. You may want to supply drinks such as coffee, tea, or water outside your prayer room. Right next door to the Global Prayer Room in Kansas City, there is a coffee shop called Higher Grounds where people can buy coffee, sandwiches, and snacks, and meet for fellowship and building relationships.
- Have an attractive prayer room created for prayer. As one approached the prayer room in Spain, shoes were removed, and no talking was permitted inside the prayer room. We emphasized vertical communication only. Don’t use too many bright lights, except at the entrance. We had lights in the prayer room that could be turned on or off, depending what people wanted. Lighting in general should be warm and inviting.
Music DVDs with suitable types of background music were selected to accompany prayers. It’s important to have a broad choice of DVDs and ones even for children. A book was left at all times in the prayer room for people to write verses, prayers, what God had spoken during their prayer time, impressions, pictures, etc. This was a valuable reminder of what happened in people’s lives in the prayer room.
The room was well furnished with seats around the perimeter, DVD player, instruments, carpets, pillows, and a candle that was burning throughout the duration of the event. The candle was a symbol representing the presence of the Lord and our passion for Him. Some Houses of Prayer do not permit candles because of the fire hazard.
If you use candles, make sure they are in a safe place and not near something flammable. My book, Intercessors Arise, was apparently too close to the flame, and one morning I found it burnt on the edges. It was baptized in fire during that month of prayer. At a meeting in Belgium where I was selling my books, an intercessor quickly wanted to buy the “anointed” book on prayer that was baptized with fire in the prayer room!
- Have some stimulating prayer training and books in the prayer room. A manual of the Intercessors Arise prayer teachings was always in the prayer room along with the book Intercessors Arise and Praying the Bible by Wesley and Stacy Campbell for prayer motivation. Teachings on prayer and intercession help to fuel the flame of prayer. For bi-monthly prayer teaching for your House of Prayer, subscribe at www.intercessorsarise.org.
- Keep the prayer room clean. The cleanliness of the hacienda was kept at the highest possible standard. Air fresheners or incense helps keep it fresh. A few of us would always try to keep it clean and orderly throughout the month. Only water is permitted in the prayer room at IHOPKC and because we have so many thousands of visitors, shoes must always be worn because of cleanliness standards.
- Have the month-long prayer schedule posted outside the prayer room. On an easel outside the prayer room were posted daily sign-up sheets for the week. The scheduled sessions were divided into two-hour sets. Each week had 84 two-hour sets. We recommend two hours, but you may want to divide it into one-hour blocks of time. It’s totally up to you.
Individuals or church groups were encouraged to fill in the blocks (sets) during times when they would be able to occupy the room. Pastors often signed blocks for their churches. You may want to assign whole churches or cell groups within a church to take a day or night. You may also want to post an introduction to the prayer room, its themes and aims, as well as other important information on this “welcome” easel or wall for people to easily see.
- Have an appointed leader for each block of time. If a pastor brought his congregation, we would recognize him as the leader for that block of time unless he deferred it to someone else. We wanted to honor the pastors for their spiritual roles as gatekeepers in the area. In an amazing way, pastors and intercessors began to love and appreciate one another on a whole new level.
When one church ended their two-hour block of time or set, another one would start. Intercessors filled in all the empty two-hour time slots, and whoever signed up would lead that block of time. The ones leaving their prayer time would always pray for the ones coming and for God’s blessing on their prayer watch.
- Have an on-site coordinator if possible. An on-site coordinator equipped with a cell phone was able to receive appointments or cancellations and record them accordingly. For a citywide House of Prayer, you may want to post the schedule on an online sign-up roster on the Internet. This is especially good for individuals who have to commute a long way to the prayer room.
As the coordinator, I was able to oversee the prayer room, making sure there was an individual or group praying every hour of every day during the month. As already mentioned, you can assign a different coordinator every day or week if you desire.
- Provide an opportunity for giving. A collection bowl was always set inside or outside the door of the prayer room. Many people gave generously. A resident of the hotel who came from outside the country was responsible for collecting the offerings, paying the bills, and recording income and expenditures during the month. Good financial accounting is important to maintain the unity of the Spirit.