Why We (Still) Burn at the House of Prayer

by W. Choong

Last month (Dec 2014), we had an enjoyable time at the International House of Prayer (One Thing Ministries). About 40 people joined us for the IHOP Internship II, where Kay-Chong, director of One Thing Ministries, and Aaron Frazee – an intercessory missionary from IHOP-KC – taught on the whys, hows and whats of establishing a House of Prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David.

It was a stirring time hearing God’s heart for raising up houses of prayer all over the earth. And when different teams of participants tried out the harp-and-bowl model during the hands-on clinics, even more so! Singing and praying the Word, responsive singing to one another and just dwelling in the House of Prayer, hearing His heart, was enjoyable!

As many discover in real life – while the wedding day is easy and enjoyable, living out a marriage and with one another day-to-day, through the seasons and highs and lows of life, is not so easy. The same applies to burning in the House of Prayer – while singing and praying the Word at the Internship was enjoyable, doing it for the long-run requires sacrifice, commitment and adjustment in people’s lives. As the prophet Joel writes, solemn assemblies and consecrated fasts require sacrifices – elders will have to gather, nursing babes and children have to join in and even the bridegroom and his bride must come out of their wedding chamber (Joel 2:16).

In the long-run, something has to sustain people who want to burn in the House of Prayer. To paraphrase Shakespeare, then, how do the “happy few, we band of brothers,” stay focused on burning in the House of Prayer, after 11 years?

We are here, because He desires a resting place (Isa 66:1). From Moses to David, from Ireland’s St Patrick to the Moravians under Count Zinderdorf (where 24-hour-a-day prayer ran on for 100 years), God has always desired a place of rest where He doesn’t have to contend with man. This is a place where God is God, man is man, and all that God is and wants, man accepts wholeheartedly. His heart moves their hearts, and their hearts move His. They are one.

We are here, because God desires a Bride that will partner with Him in the end-time judgment that will come upon the earth in the last days.

Not all the prayers we pray at the House of Prayer are anointed; indeed, at times, our prayers feel weak and even uninspired. But our prayers at the House of Prayer count! The Lord in His tender mercy counts all of them in the golden bowls of incense full of the “prayers of the saints” in heaven (Rev 4:8)! And these prayers are critical in God’s plan to redeem the earth – Jesus uses them in the 21 numbered-judgment series (i.e. the seals, trumpets and bowls) that will see the Earth and all that is in it redeemed and restored to its rightful owner – Jesus.

We are here, because we are poor in spirit.

All that we are as Christians – how we come to know Him, how we grow to walk with Him, how we will live with Him through eternity – hinges on this fundamental beatitude.

We have to and must be poor in the spirit and know our spiritual lack, that all we have is nothing in His eyes. As a result we must press in for more of His grace and fullness in our lives. Therein lies the divine paradox of “holy frustration” – the more we see Him and know Him, the more we realise that we need to see and know Him more. While this might feel “frustrating,” it propels us forward in our pursuit of Him.

In this, knowing that we are poor in the spirit enables us to encounter God. A beautiful truth is revealed in 2Cor 3:18 – as we sing, pray and meditate on the Word before His face, we are transformed from glory to glory, to be more like Him! There is something powerful about using the written Word to interact with the Living Word (Jesus). The House of Prayer is an ideal place for meditation and transformation.

We are here, because Jesus is worthy!

Mere words are found wanting if one wants to express the inexpressible wonder and beauty of the God-Man Jesus. Think of a composite man or woman who encompasses the best attributes that humankind through history has ever had – he or she has the charisma of John F. Kennedy, the beauty and grace of Audrey Hepburn, the sublime ball-skills of Lionel Messi, the compassion of Mother Teresa, the wordcraft of William Shakespeare, the military genius of Winston Churchill and the brilliance of Albert Einstein.

Even so, Jesus will far surpass the “beauty” of such a composite man! The Scriptures scream out His beauty. All mere men of the Bible who saw Him – Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Paul – fell down and worshipped in light of His beauty and glory.

This is how it stands – it cannot be that the Starbucks, McDonalds’ and supermarkets of our land can hawk all kinds of earthly wares 24/7, but the Desire of All Nations (Hag 2:8), the Man who is the chief among ten thousand (Songs 5:10), is not adored and worshipped enough. To not have a place where Jesus is adored and worshipped 24/7 is indeed an injustice!

If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we’d realise we don’t really desire Him as He deserves to be desired. Why don’t we desire Him enough? Because we don’t really know Him. Why don’t we know Him? Because we don’t have enough revelation of who Jesus really is. That is why the all-time favourite apostolic prayer at Houses of Prayer around the world is Eph 1:17 – that the Lord will grant us a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we may know Him more.

If Mary of Bethany lived among us today, she would not be very popular. After all, she would not be performing any miracles. She would not have many (or any) followers. She wouldn’t be very famous either.

But consider this. Jesus in Mark 14 says that her very act of pouring out a fine alabaster jar of spikenard on Him would be memorialised for all time. Each time that the gospel is preached, Jesus said, Mary would be remembered. How cool is that! And how so? Because Mary, more than any of the 12 apostles, knew Jesus’ heart. She knew that Jesus was going to the Cross and wanted to prepare Him for His burial. And how did Mary came to such a deep realisation of His heart? She simply sat at His feet, heard His Word and went after the one thing that would not be taken from her (Lk 10:39-42). She was able to carry out her extravagant act of worship in Mark 14 because of what she had been doing in Luke 10.

In the new year, particularly at a time when we go into a season of consecration, fasting and prayer for Singapore’s Jubilee year, let’s give Him the praise, worship and adoration that is due Him. If you can, do join us to minister to Jesus at the House of Prayer!