Staff Retreat– and $40,000!!!

Every year, the staff of The Prayer Room goes on a weekend retreat together somewhere out in the country. Many call it the highlight of the year, and after being privileged to participate this year, I can see why. All 30(ish) of the staff (full-time, part-time, and volunteer) spent the entire weekend together eating, sharing stories, playing games (I got to introduce some of them to Pit!), shooting guns, making s’mores, praying, teasing, laughing… it was a wonderful time of refreshing and reenvisioning for all of us. The tight-knit friendships in this group are amazing, and I am so honoured to get to spend this season calling these people my family.

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Yes, I did.

staff retreat

Staff hang time!

While we were gone, IHOPU sent one of its best student worship teams down to Texas from Kansas City to keep the prayer and worship going in our prayer room while 90% of the people who sustain daily operations were out of town. They were amazing! They were so willing to serve and really blessed by the opportunity. Several of them said afterwards that those little sets in an empty room were the best worship experiences they’d ever had. We were all so grateful for these guys.

"Team R&R" rocked the house for us all weekend!

“Team R&R” rocked the house for us all weekend!

Also, here’s another $$ testimony…

As you may remember from my previous post, we’re in the process of remodeling a new building to house the ministry and are getting hit with one roadblock after another. God has given us two $50,000 anonymous cash donations on two separate occasions, but every time we turn around there’s another thing that needs fixing and another exorbitant city requirement and another reason to delay the process. Most recently, the city slapped us with some heretofore unmentioned fire code requirements that will cost us at least $30,000. This put us at a standstill yet again, and we redoubled our prayers for God to break in – to change the requirement, give us the money, or preferably both.

Last week, our director Brad and his wife discovered a package on their doorstep containing $40,000. In cash. Anonymously.

40,000

Merry Christmas, TPR.

HALLELUJAH.

This is exactly what we need to move forward on the remodel project and get into our new home as quickly as possible!!

The waiting sucks, but God always breaks in, and He always does so spectacularly.

People have said to me, “It’s too bad you weren’t here to see the base back before everything was so hard!” But you know what? I wouldn’t trade this season for the world. In times of hardship is when you get to see what a people is truly made of. I have seen this community cling to faith and joy, keep the fire on the altar no matter what, and intercede relentlessly for breakthrough. They have kept loving and serving and blessing and welcoming others, even when their strength feels almost gone. They have kept loving and trusting Jesus, even when the circumstances look impossible.

This is a family I am deeply honoured and delighted to journey with. And I’m super excited to help finish remodelling the building and eventually celebrate the move-in with them!

A Week in the Life of an Extern

If you’ve been wondering what it looks like to be an extern at The Prayer Room DFW, wonder no longer! In a nutshell, my week consists of 24 hours of sacred trust in the prayer room, 12 hours of service, and 10 hours of class time. Here’s what any given week pretty much looks like for me:

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My week at a glance.

MONDAY is my longest day. I’m at the base for over 12 hours. I’m in the prayer room 9:00 to 11:00 for my first sacred trust set of the day, then I spend an hour doing some admin work, then I have a lunch break during which I usually like to practice piano. From 1:00 to 3:00 I work on my IHOPU classes, then the last six hours of my day are spent in the prayer room. I usher the 3:00 and 5:00 sets (which consists of greeting guests, leading rapid fire prayer, and relieving the worship leader if they need to step out), then I lead worship for the 7:00 intercession set for the ending of abortion.

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My week at a glance.

TUESDAY begins for the first six hours the same as Monday: prayer room, admin, lunch, class. At 3:00 I lead worship for a devotional set, in which I play piano and sing by myself for two hours. (TPR has a loop pedal, so I can rest my fingers as often as I like!) I always spend at least one 15 minute chunk of that time singing through a passage and meditating on it through spontaneous singing. At 5:30 we have staff meeting, which is a really important time to connect about how things are going for the base and what God is saying to us as a corporate body, as well as to handle announcements and admin stuff. At 7:00 I have small group with four other lovely ladies! We have a great time hanging out, laughing and praying together.

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My week at a glance.

WEDNESDAY is my day off. Sometimes I hang out with people in Fort Worth or just do stuff around the house. Now that Doctor Who is back for series nine, I have a weekly date with Lauren to watch the newest episode. 🙂

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My week at a glance.

THURSDAY begins at 9:00 with singing on a “worship with the Word” team using the harp and bowl model. We’ve been singing through Song of Solomon 1:2-4 and I love it! Then I have an admin meeting with the woman I’m assistant to, then lunch and class time. At 3:00 I go into the prayer room, and I worship lead a devo at 5:00.

FRIDAY I section lead the mid section. A full day in the prayer room is divided into three sections: 5:00-11:00 am, 11:00 am-5:00 pm, and 5:00-11:00 pm. The section leader doesn’t have to be in the room the entire time unless they have a concurrent responsibility such as ushering or worship leading, but they are the primary point person for anything that happens during that period. On Friday afternoons, it’s usually three of us (Me, Caslin, and Lisa) rotating as usher and worship leader for all three sets. I worship lead at 11:00, I have class time at 1:00, and I usher at 3:00. At 5:00 I have my externship meeting with Lisa, the staff member serving as my supervisor. Lisa is amazing at asking me how all facets of the externship are going and answering my questions. She’s been using this time to go over the staff manual with me and explain in detail some of the base policies, so I have deeper understanding on a practical level of how to run a house of prayer.

SATURDAY begins with sleeping in a little bit before my sacred trust in the prayer room starts at 11:00. Around 1:00 I go over to the new building to help Brad remodel it until 3:30 (or sometimes 5:00). It’s a veeerrryyyyy slow process, but it’s coming along! At 6:30 I head to the prayer room for Encounter service! Brad always teaches on something related to the end times, and I often do the slides for worship. People often go out to eat together afterwards.

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My week at a glance.

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My week at a glance.

SUNDAY I have sacred trust in the prayer room from 11:00 t0 1:00. Since the church we rent from is doing their own Sunday service at this time, we move our prayer room to the small multi-purpose room to keep the fire on the altar. At 1:00 I’m supposed to have class time, but as often as I can, I try to squeeze these two hours in earlier in the week so I can have the afternoon free. Finally, my week wraps up with church at Forerunner Fellowship from 4:00 to 6:00. Brad pastors a small church mostly composed of prayer room people that meets at another church building. We keep this church as organisationally separate from The Prayer Room as possible; Forerunner Fellowship is a staunch supporter of everything The Prayer Room does, but The Prayer Room will never mention or promote Forerunner Fellowship.

And that’s what a standard week as an extern looks like at The Prayer Room! I really could not have chosen a better location to do my externship. I love the hearts here for prioritising the prayer room as our number one ministry, for training and investing in others to strengthen and sustain the prayer movement, and for building community together more genuinely than anywhere I’ve ever been. TPR is a beautiful, beautiful place, and it is my honour to be a part of it.

The Beauty of Hiddenness

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At The Prayer Room, anyone who can play a few chords and is willing pretty quickly becomes a worship leader. That’s the nature of a small house of prayer. Many of us are in that boat, including me. Others… WOW. One guy in particular is crazy talented. Like, dang. He’s basically TPR’s Matt Gilman. I would confidently throw him up on a Onething conference stage in front of 30,000 people and he would rock the house no problem.

And yet, day after day he’s playing and singing in an empty room in a rented church in Arlington, Texas.

One day while I was in his set (I was literally ushering an empty room) I was blown away by this picture of hiddenness. He wasn’t holding back or singing halfheartedly because his audience was lacking. He wasn’t singing for any audience but One. As God started showing me what He sees in this moment, I almost felt like I was intruding on something private and sacred.

The great heavenly chorus of “HOLY HOLY HOLY” pales in comparison to the way one human voice lifted in an empty room captivates Jesus’ heart.

There really is such a beauty in hiddenness. There’s a purity in undistracted worship–in secret faithfulness.

And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
(Matthew 6:4, 6, 18)

It reminds me of David’s years of preparation, singing to the Lord alone while watching his father’s sheep. I think God cherished those songs even more than He did the songs that came out of David’s amply-staffed 24/7 tabernacle later on.

And of course, it reminds me even more of Jesus–who was in the very form of God yet emptied Himself to take the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:5-11) He hid his own glory so thoroughly for 33 years–and especially for the first 30 before His ministry began. Even today, He hides Himself. He who will one day split the sky and appear in the clouds like lightning flashing from the east to the west (Isaiah 64:1, Matthew 24:27-30) goes unnoticed and unconsidered by billions of people every single day.

Many of us feel hidden right now. Many of us feel like we have something to offer, and we’re stuck in a back corner somewhere, because it’s not our season yet.

Guess what. If you love Jesus well in the corner, He’ll treasure it forever. He may have been the one who put you there. Maybe He wants your undistracted gaze just a little while longer. It’s a beautiful thing to be alone in an empty room singing to Jesus. All the best leaders in history did their time in obscurity… and many of the most faithful ones, whose names we’ll never know until heaven, spent their whole lives in hiddenness. What kind of glory are they swimming in now?

Holy hiddenness is a beautiful thing, because you can lock your heart fully on Jesus and know He’s the one who hears your song. He’s the one who counts your secret faithfulness as a personal offering of love. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else ever sees you. He sees, and He loves every moment.

Lauren worship leading the 7-9pm set on a Thursday night.

“It’s the joy of being lovesick…” Lauren worship leading the 7-9pm set on a Thursday night.

Better Than a Thousand Elsewhere

Psalm-84

This was my first week at The Prayer Room in Arlington, Texas, and I hit the ground running. I have already led four two-hour solo worship sets on piano, section led twice (a section leader is the main point person in charge of the prayer room for a six-hour block of time), and ushered once. Yesterday I was at the prayer room for fourteen hours because I was filling in as a section leader on top of my regular prayer room hours and worship leading. In total, I count 26 hours I’ve spent in the prayer room in the last five days- and Wednesday was a day off.

Worship leading is still rather new to me, as is playing piano in general, so of course I’ve encountered glitches like hitting the wrong buttons on the keyboard (that was NOT the sound I wanted!) and fumbling the chords plenty of times. I love it, though, because every time I lead worship I get to:
1) serve the prayer movement by keeping the fire on the altar (Leviticus 6:13),
2) worship God through my songs, and
3) encounter Jesus by singing Scripture.

Every day this week as I’ve been worship leading, I’ve been singing and meditating on Psalm 84. This is the famous passage from which we get the song “Better Is One Day,” and my heart has been eating it up every time I sing through it.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God…

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!…

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

(Psalm 84:1-2, 4, 10)

I’ve been in this passage for a few months now, and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

I want to feel the psalmist’s longing for the presence of God. I want to taste the blessing of taking up residence in His presence and constantly singing praise to Him, just like the angels in the throne room who “never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy…'” (Revelation 4:8)

I want to be able to truthfully say that I consider a single day spent in His presence to be more pleasurable and more valuable than a thousand days spent anywhere else on earth.

After all, “in [His] presence there is fullness of joy; at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Every time I sing and declare this truth to God and to myself, I remind my spirit that He truly is the ultimate pleasure, and His presence, specifically in this context His house of prayer, is the best place in the world I could choose to be.

 


Audra Lynn, one of my favourite worship leaders, singing “Better Is One Day” in the IHOPKC prayer room.

 

Bonus just for fun picture: me and my new friend Nichole trying on a giant pair of "wings" in downtown Fort Worth.

Bonus just for fun picture: me and my new friend Nichole trying on a giant pair of “wings” in downtown Fort Worth.

Hellooooo, Dallas!

…Or Rather, Arlington!

(… but I’m still gonna sometimes say I’m in Dallas, since Arlington is in the Dallas area. Therefore, “Hellooooo, Stonehenge!” … er, Dallas.)

On Wednesday night, the day before I left, my family, including cousins and significant others, had dinner together and helped me pack my car. They even laid hands on me and prayed for me to send me off with a blessing. My family is so wonderful.

Road trippin'.

Road trippin’.

Bright and early on Thursday morning, I drove off toward Texas. It was an eleven hour drive, and I didn’t want to actually take the time to stop for meals, so I munched on fruit and crackers (and maybe some chocolate) and arrived in El Paso around 8:30 pm. I spent the night with a friend named Lauren who was a leader in my One Thing Internship in 2012, and then a classmate and friend in IHOPU. She did her externship in Dallas last year, and in the next few weeks will be returning to join staff at The Prayer Room! It’s so much fun to get to still be with her after all this time. (And she’s a Whovian, so she’s gonna be my Doctor Who series 9 buddy when it premiers!)

I left El Paso early Friday morning and drove nine hours to Arlington, where I met the couple I’ll be living with: Andrew and Lauren, and their seven month old (as of today!) daughter Madilynn, who is the cutest baby one could ever dream of. I have a bedroom, bathroom, and even a fridge to myself, and the family is super sweet. Brad Stroup, the director of The Prayer Room, came over with his wife and two daughters, so I got to meet three adorable younglings in one day! Brad was crazy excited to see me (when is that man not crazy excited about something?) and the following Instagram picture ensued:

I promise I’m normally a bit more photogenic. But it’s okay, because Brad and I are both SUPEREXCITEDERMAHGERSH!!!!1!

Brad also told me that the house I’m living in is the very one that they bought to first house The Prayer Room when they graduated from prayer meetings in Brad’s living room years ago. They’ve remodeled since then, but I am so honoured to be literally sleeping in the place that was once the house of prayer. I feel like that means Jesus’ eyes are on this building in a very special way. 😉 I think He’s definitely nostalgic about the building just like we as humans are, because I know He remembers those early days with great fondness.

I just ran around town and did some grocery and Target shopping, and tonight I’m having my first official externship thing in the form of a meeting with Lisa, my externship supervisor here on the base, and then I’m going to TPR’s Saturday night Encounter service!

I’m so excited I get to spend four months with these people serving in their prayer room and learning everything I can from them. This is a beautiful, beautiful community like a city set on a hill, and I am expecting God to do great things this semester. For more information, check out my Dallas Externship FAQ page.