A fresh start for Southampton House of Prayer

Over the summer of 2020 we felt the Holy Spirit speaking to us about a “fresh start” – something new and glorious. We felt that God was calling us into small things, and bringing an emphasis on households of prayer – little lights.  As Jesus said – ‘where two or three gather in my name, there I am among them’.

During September it became clear that the “fresh start” was to distribute our praying community from one central group into multiple small houses of prayer.

As we prayed about it one of our team saw a pot of paint on a map of Southampton.

The Lord was painting dabs of paint around the city – dip in the pot, dab on the map; dip in the pot, dab on the map. Then He took the bristles of the brush and flicked them to spray fine drops of paint all over the city.

We believe this illustrates how He is going to impact the whole of Southampton with His presence as we pray in small groups.

Small-HOP vision and commitment

The house of prayer vision recognizes the whole Body of Christ in Southampton and values the contribution that each church has to make to ‘the whole’.

The idea of “House of Prayer” is that it is not “my church” or “your church”, but a space/place where Christians from all churches can meet to pray.

The idea of a “Small House of Prayer” (small-HOP) is much the same. A small-HOP is a small group of Christians from different churches who have committed to pray together.

Small-HOPs gather around these commitments:

  • Each member commits to individual daily devotion to God. We value creativity and variety in our praying, including stillness, thankfulness, asking, and yielding to God’s will.
  • Each group commits to pray together regularly because members either live in the same community or share a particular local concern (such as a hospital or a school)

What are we praying for?

The key scripture that is shaping our small-HOPs is from Jesus’ letters to the churches in the book of Revelation: Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.

These are our main prayer focuses:

  • Listening to the Spirit and seeking to understand what He is saying to the Churches of Southampton.
  • That the love of God be experienced by the people of Southampton.
  • That individually and together the Churches in Southampton will grow in the knowledge of God as we pursue prayer, mission and justice.

How does it work?

One person is designated as a leader of each small-HOP. This person is recruited to the role using the safeguarding procedures of City Life church, who provide the oversight for SoHOP. The small-HOP leader connects regularly with the House of Prayer leaders to share what the Holy Spirit is saying and keep the vision clear.

This is the basic framework for small-HOPs. It is used flexibly, according to what each individual and group believes is God’s calling to them:

  • Each small-HOP includes no more than 6 people.
  • Each group includes members from more than one church.
  • Each group meets together regularly in any suitable combination of face to face (socially distanced) or online or via phone calls.
  • Each group joins with all other small-HOPs together in a COVID-safe environment from time to time (initially we are planning bi-monthly).
  • Groups may choose to serve the churches and the people of Southampton in whatever prayer initiatives arise.

We see small-HOPs as a commitment for a significant season of prayer. Therefore, whilst we hope that they will continue for many years, at first we are asking for at least a 6-month commitment.

How to join

In order to honour the commitment you are making and the partnership of different churches, we like to send your church leader a simple message to let them know that you are taking part in a small-HOP. We also do this to safeguard you and the people in your small-HOP, as in some cases people are coming together who do not yet know each other. So as part of the joining we ask you to give us your church leader’s contact details – ideally an email address.

Called to prayer?

If you are excited by this vision and would like to join or start a small-HOP, we’d love to hear from you. Please use our contact page to get in touch.