Day of Prayer 8 November 2020

As we face a winter of increased problems with covid-19, the churches in Southampton are responding to the calling of the Holy Spirit to organise a day of prayer on Remembrance Sunday, 8th November 2020. 

Our actions are prompted by friends at Lord’s Hill church, who were remembering the miracle of Dunkirk, which was the result of a national day of prayer. Here is a video about this:

Since the start of this pandemic there have been calls for a national day of prayer. The government does not feel that this is a government matter and has not done this. So we are getting on and doing it.

Can you shape your Remembrance Sunday plans so that we in this City all commit together to a full day of prayer on Sunday 8th November?

Let this be a day for us all to humble ourselves before our great God, to pray for people in our nation to turn to God, and for God to turn back the virus.

The three strands of the prayers are inspired by 2 Chronicles 7.13-14, where the LORD says to Solomon: ‘When I… send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Will you all use your influence to inspire as many as possible to do this alongside us too? This would be such a wonderful – such an appropriate – way to mark the 80th anniversary of the miracle of Dunkirk before the Lord. 

Suggestions and resources for the day

An example from Lord’s Hill Church: We plan to encourage our people to pray privately in their own homes, between 8am and 8pm and will also hold five separate times of prayer in the building:

  • 8am: prayers of humbling ourselves before God and saying sorry for what we have done to contribute to His hurting world, followed by 30 minutes of silent prayer.
  • 10.30am: Holy Communion – our main service at its usual time, in which we will cover briefly the three themes of humbling ourselves before God, prayers for revival and prayers against the Virus.
  • 2.30pm: prayers for revival, followed by 30 mins of silence.
  • 4.30pm: prayers specifically against the Virus.
  • 7pm: an hour of music and meditation – our usual act of ‘Time for God’.

Materials for each of these times of prayer will be available on this page by Friday 30 October.

The three banners on this page are available for you to download and use freely here:

24-7 Prayer Online Gathering

24-7 Prayer Online Gathering – 30/31 October 2020 We highly recommend this online event to all believers in Southampton. We are anticipating that the Lord will again move powerfully among us to renew our vision, restore our souls and compel us to pursue Jesus.

This is an online event and open to all. Please consider attending.

For two reasons…

…Firstly, those of us who have been before have found the 24-7 Gatherings to be very inspiring and empowering. We are anticipating that the Lord will again move powerfully among us to renew our vision, restore our souls and compel us to pursue Jesus.

…Secondly, at this gathering, Southampton House of Prayer (SoHOP) is going to be formally recognised as part of the 24-7 Prayer network. We will be commissioned to continue serving the Body of Christ in Southampton as we encourage prayer across all the churches.

Our heart is to serve the Body of Christ in Southampton however we can, encouraging prayer as the fundamental life-giving activity of all churches, and standing together to pray for an awakening to Jesus across the city.

More details here: https://www.24-7prayer.com/events/GatheringOnline

Easter Week Resources

We’ve been on lockdown for 2 weeks now. Here is a round up of resources to help us:

Prayer Spaces At Home: 8 simple ideas for practical prayer activities that are suitable for the whole family. 

Graves to Gardens. An offline, low-tech, all-ages project, designed to help households celebrate Easter together. It explores a wide array of spiritual practices and touches on the topics of hope, disappointment, rest, non-anxious presence, open-handed faith and kingdom purpose.

A video with Jill Weber from 24-7 Prayer about keeping close to God in this time: A Rope in a Snowstorm – Rhythms of Life in the Age of Covid 19 

This 30 minute podcast is an honest discussion between two church leaders about how they have personally reacted to the lockdown and how they are coping. There are helpful thoughts for us all on listening to God in the current situation.

Where two or three gather…

March 19 2020 – The coronavirus is spreading and we are all learning what is meant by “social distancing”. For a while we will stop gathering together in church. But we can still gather!

 In Matthew 18:20 we have Jesus’ words:

  • For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (NIV)
  • For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them (NLT)

This is wonderful! The promise of Jesus’ presence with us.

[Thanks to Andy Freeman in Punk Monk for the following insight into Matthew 18:20]

We believe that this time of social distancing may bear wonderful fruit among us as we re-discover that our households can be Christ-centred communities and we can enjoy His presence with us more than ever before. 

Gathering with a purpose (being intentional)

  • For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (NIV)

This is gathering with a purpose. Without “His name” we lack purpose, we lack meaning and we lack authority.

This is agreeing about why we are meeting. We can be together because we are forced to by the need for social distancing, or we can decide that we are a small community gathering around Jesus. A Christ-centred community.

If we make this decision, it will lead to other decisions about how to remain centred on Jesus. This will involve prayer and worship and these things will ground us in Jesus. We sometimes say this as “practising the presence of Jesus” – we do things to help us focus on His presence.

Experiencing the presence of Christ (it’s spiritual)

If we are deciding to gather in Jesus’ name, then He promises to be present with us. Our gathering will become a spiritual place.

This is wonderful. We will become a Christ-centred community and will daily experience His presence with us.

We said gathering in Jesus’ name is “practising His presence”. Well Jesus says “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18). This is Him practising His presence with us too. Amazing.

We will become a spiritual place and Jesus will become more deeply involved in our lives, surprising us with His presence.

What next?

Today you can decide with your household to gather in Jesus name each day – and then you will become a spiritual community, experiencing the presence of Jesus. You can choose to turn this time of social distancing into a time of coming closer to Jesus – becoming a Christ-centred community.

How? This will be a journey, it will be a time of exploration. Think about the rhythm of your day and how you could gather together to focus on Jesus. Over the coming weeks as we “draw near to God” we will find that He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We will develop new rhythms in our households and as we deliberately gather in Jesus name, we will find He is right there with us.

24-7 Prayer have some great resources to help us. See prayercourse.org/toolshed/. Perhaps start with how to pray the Lords prayer. And the examen is a lovely way to end each day.

We also have links to lots helpful resources at sohop.org/pray

Living alone

If you are living on your own or know people who are living on their own, please think about choosing to have a daily virtual gathering. You can gather in Jesus name each day via telephone or social media?


This page is available as a pdf download

Still standing?

One of our favourite walks with our dog is in Telegraph Woods. As you look more closely at the trees you come to admire their height, colours and variety, knowing that many of them have been standing there for decades. Walking in the woods after the powerful storms in February, it was quite a shock to see the devastation caused by the high winds. Many trees were twisted, had lost twigs, branches or even parts of their trunks. Others had started to fall, but were saved from hitting the ground by neighbouring trees. Some trees had been completely uprooted, so had no chance of surviving. Perhaps the saddest sight was trees which were lying on the ground, but because of one or two roots still had a small amount of life. Some Christians are like that: holding on to a thread of connection to God just enough to keep them going, but not fulfilling their true destiny of standing upright and bearing fruit.

Our SoHOP theme of “standing” will soon be replaced, but what I saw in the woods set me thinking: what makes seemingly healthy, sturdy trees fall victim to high winds? 

In spiritual terms, what makes seemingly successful, strong believers come to grief, no longer trusting God or serving him passionately, while others are still running the race in their 80s and even 90s? 

Most of us are aware of people we once knew in the faith, even full-time leaders, who are no longer actively seeking and serving God. And is there anything we can do to make this less likely, so we can continue to stand? And what of people who are damaged or even uprooted… is there any hope?

The internet informed me that the main reasons for trees’ falling are high winds, saturated ground, or disease.

High winds

High winds to trees are like difficult circumstances to us. Such things happen to all of us, it’s how we cope with them that matters. High winds reveal the quality of the trees and the soil they are planted in. In calm weather all trees look impressive, stand tall, and don’t need particularly firm root system. High winds reveal the true nature of the trees. Anybody can look impressive when life is going well, but when illness, disappointment or persecution come along the true nature of the person is seen. Some of us remember an American pastor called Larry Tomczak. He wrote a booklet entitled “Biblical confessions to build your faith.” (I have a copy if you would like one). He said “the greatest tests in life come unannounced, therefore we must prepare now. The wind and rain and storms come to everyone. You must pay the price. There are no shortcuts. Spend regular time in God’s presence, and develop the faith you have.” Mt 7. Branches and twigs broken off: often a good thing (John 15, dead stuff taken away that hinders process of life and fruitfulness).

High rainfall

High rainfall leads to boggy ground, so even good roots cannot hold on when there is pressure. This shows the importance of good relationships, where we can be accountable to others. Richard and Kathy are right to insist that we are linked to good churches where we are in fellowship with Spirit-filled people and under godly leadership. This is not restrictive, it’s for our wellbeing. Having others near us offers protection, rather like those trees in the woods that are prevented from falling right over by others planted next to them. However this situation will not last for ever; we need to be put upright again. For trees, that will never happen, but God through his grace CAN set us right again!

Disease

Some trees are broken off mid-trunk, which is often caused by disease (infestation of insects). Spiritually speaking this is the problem of sin. Sin has been dealt a fatal blow through the cross, but we have to live it out in experience. As believers we underestimate sin’s power. If untreated it eats away inside us and undermines God’s work in our lives. And it’s often not gross immorality, more habits or attitudes that we pass off as “it’s just the way I am.” David was radical in his approach to sin, and aware of God’s holiness. Hence his prayer in Psalm 19:12: “how can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these HIDDEN faults.” His friends could not see David’s sin, and he was humble enough to acknowledge he was not aware of all his failings. No wonder God called him a man after His own heart! 

How to keep standing in the storm?

So what can we do to reduce the possibility of being taken out by a storm? 

1.      Push roots deeper into God (private devotions, and corporate worship/prayer). 

2.      Be in relationship with other Spirit-filled believers.

3.      Invite the Holy Spirit to point out sin, and deal with it ruthlessly.

Prayer/Response

We can respond to God by praying for ourselves and each other using the words of Paul in Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT):

 

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him.

Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.

Then you will be made complete with all the fulness of life and power that comes from God

 Chris Hardwick, March 2020

Coronavirus Prayers

Download: Coronavirus Prayers (Southampton).

Download: An Hour of Prayer for the Coronavirus Pandemic (24-7 Prayer)

March 2020: Our normal lives are being considerably interrupted by the spread of a flu virus that is now being described as pandemic in Europe. 

We have now been advised to wash our hands more often, particularly when we arrive at work or get home again. We are to refrain from handshaking and hugging. This is stirring up different reactions. We have seen panic buying of toilet roll and pasta in supermarkets. Some people are wondering about keeping their children home from school to protect them. And now we have been told it is the time for everyone to stop all non-essential contact with others. This is going to hurt.

Into this atmosphere we pray! 

You may wish to sign up and pray for an hour in our virtual prayer room. We are providing this as one way to know to keep watch for our city as the Body of Christ together and maintain a sense of being connected together.

24-7 have set up global virtual prayer room for coronavirus. You can book in to pray for an hour and download prayer resources.

Ideas for praying

  • Love God – worship, pray, read your bible
  • Love neighbours – send a note, buy groceries etc.
  • We are supposed to take longer washing our hands – say the Lord’s prayer as you wash your hands.
  • Read Psalm 91 each day and let it shape your prayers.
  • Use these prayers as a starting point and pray specific prayers for the people and organisations (e.g. doctors) in your neighbourhood.

We begin with our foundation of trust in God, using the words of Southampton hymn writer Isaac Watts. (For the rest of Isaac Watts’ hymn see hymnal.net)


Pause and and trust our Father

Our God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defence is sure.

We believe…

  • God is good. He loves us.
  • He is the same God today, as he was before this virus broke out.
  • He is able and mighty to save.
  • He promises to heal our land when we humble ourselves and pray.
  • He is a shelter for all who are afraid and He comforts all who mourn.

And so we pray…

Dear Father, give us faith to trust you in this time. Our normal routines are being disturbed. In this time, meet us in new ways.

You are our redeemer and we look to you to redeem this situation and bring about a new awareness of your love and sovereignty.

Save us from this virus, may it decline in a miraculous way.

In the meantime, we especially pray for everyone in healthcare services in Southampton. Be their strength and wisdom to cope with unprecedented pressure on their services. Be their peace and security.

We ask you for a spirit of generosity over us all, instead of fear and selfish hoarding. Help us to reach out to neighbours and care for those who are vulnerable at this time.

We put all our trust and hope in You.


Downloads

You can download these Coronavirus Prayers (Southampton) here.

24-7 Prayer have also written prayers for deliverance from the coronavirus.

SoHOP – first birthday at NYE!

We invite all the SoHOP community to gather for new year’s eve celebration, prayer and dedication.

We begin with an opportunity to meet for Worship and Prayer at the Bargate (8pm), followed by a Prayer Party at the prayer room at 286 Burgess Road (9pm to midnight+).

Bargate, Southampton - view from the northThe worship at the Bargate (8pm) is in response to a picture one of our community had at the 24-7 retreat after the Belfast Gathering at the beginning of November. The worship will have a Hope and Heritage theme, with songs like Amazing Grace, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (by Southampton’s Isaac Watts), and others on the theme of “In God our Hope”. We envisage being there for about 45 mins.

The Prayer Party is from 9pm to 12:30am (and beyond).
We will have drinks and food in one room and prayer in the Sacred Space.
We are including a celebration of SoHOP’s 1st Birthday, and praying in the new year. There will be:

  • Bring and share party finger foods and drinks (please bring some!!)
    (but please don’t bring alcohol)
  • Thank you God for…
  • Worship led from the piano
  • Communion
  • Dedication and Consecration of SoHOP for the year ahead.
  • Opportunity to stay and pray on into the night/morning.

After midnight we will lock the door and go over to our normal arrangements for unsupervised prayer times, so if any of our regulars want to stay and pray, that will be possible.

We take this opportunity to thank everyone for supporting SoHOP this year, but more than that, for responding to God’s call to pray. We believe we will each go from strength to strength as we continue to set our hearts on pilgrimage (Psalm 84) and that as we continue to pray, God will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land! (1 Chron 7:14)

Pray and fast for the General Election

We felt that the General Election on 12th December is very much a call to pray.

Having this in mind, we are committing the next two weekends to pray and fast, with set times where everyone can come and pray together in the prayer room.

We will be meeting:
– 9pm Friday 29th November
– 11am Saturday 30th November
– 9pm Friday 6th December
– 11am Saturday 7th December

Saturday drop-ins will be open as usual 9am-6pm.

See our How to Pray page for some resources about fasting and praying for the nation.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:1‬

Stand firm (November, December)

Our theme for November and December is “Stand“.

We feel that the Holy Spirit is calling us to identify the specific things he has given us to steward, and is reminding us of our authority in prayer to stand our ground and see His will be done.

So we encourage you to consider what grace is on you to serve Jesus. Perhaps you’ve been distracted or discouraged in this recently. We encourage you to realise this and to stand firm, embracing the call of God and standing your ground for the kinds of things he has called you to do.

We are thinking both individually and corporately. Here are some examples:

  • You have been praying for a friend or family member for a long time, and you have a sense of God’s promises for them.
  • You are aware of skills and capabilities that God has given you and He has been prompting you to use them to bless others and glorify Him. 
  • Your church or organisation provides a special service to people in your locality or across the city. 

In all these situations, we believe this is a special time to stand firm in prayer. 

  • Keep speaking out the specific promises of God you have heard for the situation.
  • Pray persistently for a multiplication of God’s grace in this area.
  • Pray for those you know who are standing firm in the Kingdom of God, stewarding things entrusted to them by God.
  • Listen to God for other areas in which He has commissioned you to stand firm.

We will be collecting specific prayers and stories about standing firm in the prayer room over these months and are looking forward to sharing them together.

If you are part of a church or organisation that has a call from God to do something specific in Southampton, we would be delighted to pray for you and stand firm together in prayer for what God is doing through you. Get in touch for more info.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Rev 2:7, NIV

The Importance of Thanksgiving

house of prayer – Sept 18 – Importance of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not just an optional extra or prelude to the more important matters of praise and worship. It is a vital ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship with God. Consider the importance of thanksgiving in human relationships, the pleasure it brings to a parent or the good feeling it fosters when drivers express appreciation on the road. Conversely, how it rankles when people don’t do it, giving a feeling of being taken for granted.

Thanksgiving

1. In the old testament, it was one of the offerings to be made regularly in the tabernacle/temple (Lev 7:12).

It was a voluntary act of worship. It is one of the prescribed sacrifices, whose purpose was to maintain fellowship. So there are mentions of the “sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

Ps 50:14: “offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

Ps 50:23: it honours God. Words of thanksgiving go directly into the presence of God and are immediately accepted by Him.

Ps 116:17: “to you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord.”

2. The incense (Ex 30:34-37), symbolic of prayer (see Revelation), was composed of several ingredients.

We see several ingredients as Paul talks about prayer: Phil 4:6: “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Eph 6:18: “with all [kinds of] prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.”

An authentic prayer life will consist of all types of prayer.

3. It reminds us of what God has done for us, and so recognizes his covenant faithfulness.

Like Israel in the OT we have the privilege of being God’s chosen people, a unique relationship. Ps 103: “bless the Lord O my soul, and forget none of his benefits.” Ps 107:22: also mentions the sacrifice of thanksgiving, with a list of impossible situations where God intervened.

4. It fosters a heart of gratitude.

Col 3:15: “let the peace rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” It brings peace. Antidote to complaining. Protection against the enemy’s whisper, “God doesn’t care.”

5. It expresses our dependence on God.

Thanksgiving recognises that everything we have and are is due to God’s provision and goodness. Eph 5:20: “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” 1 Thess 5:18: “in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How can God expect that we shall always be thankful, given difficult circumstances, times of need, etc.? Because of the cross, by which God has given to us the ultimate that we need, and it is always freely available. So thanksgiving increases faith in a time of need.

6. It helps us start praying if we are struggling.

Ps 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” In the book “Entering the presence of God”, Derek Prince notes that this verse is a step towards the Holy of Holies, worshipping God in his holiness. If we are struggling to start praying, start with thanksgiving (Count your blessings, name them one by one).

7. The thank offering is also our yielding to God in response for what he has done for us

Rom 12:1 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Response/Activity

Let’s read Psalm 116 together, and then spend a few moments expressing our gratitude to God.