How we do what we do and the heart behind it

Sanctuary House of Prayer is all about worshiping God and interceding for our city in a format that is ongoing and easy to be a part of. We have been developing approaches to doing this well for 6+ years now and have a clearer idea of how to best facilitate these meetings for the benefit of all. The following is a description of the mechanics of this house of prayer, the structures and models that work to allow for more and better involvement. We encourage you to read through this material in an effort to understand the fullness of what we are building here. It will help you to better function in any given meeting, feel like you know where it is all going and generally connect with what God is putting into motion in this place.

What is Harp and Bowl?

At Sanctuary you will hear the term Harp and Bowl now and then. This is a biblical term taken from Revelation 5:8, where the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb holding a harp in one hand and a bowl filled with incense, that were the prayers of the saints, in the other. We like this image! More and more this image has been used around the world as a simple way to show the important connection between worship and intercession. This is not a biblical proof that they must be put together. It is a simple image that captures in one verse what we believe is a very effective approach to praying for whole cities in an ongoing way.

Worship is the first call of all people. It seems pointless to stand before the King of Heaven and ask with boldness for issues related to our city if we fail to worship Him and recognize who He is in our midst. We see this pattern in the Lord’s Prayer itself (Matt 6:9:13) where the prayer begins with “Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name!” This expression of worship comes before any request and Jesus wants us to know that getting things done for God is never to come before knowing and worshiping God. This theme comes up again and again in the gospels. Mary and Martha both hosted Jesus that day, but it was Mary while reclining at Jesus feet that was commended for choosing the better thing. Stuff can and will get done later. But, nothing replaces worshiping Him in intimacy and honesty.

As we press into God and offer our worship to Him as an “audience of One”, we know that He is eager to reveal His heart for others to us and longs for us to ask on their behalf. This is intercession. We want to pray according to what is on His heart and worshiping Him allows us to better see and feel this. Bible prayers become essential here, as we know that He has given these to all the church for their strengthening and growth. They are on His heart!

Sanctuary will function differently from other prayer models in that we believe there is much benefit in intertwining the worship and intercession constantly. We will keep the music going at all times as a way of engaging in worship and allow the prayers to be spoken out over the music. Even more so, the model that we will use allows for this to happen in an orderly but creative way. This will allow the singers to sing over what you pray and allow you to pray again around what they are singing. In the middle of all this is the scripture itself, anchoring all this to the truth of God. There will be opportunities to sing in tongues as a way of praying beyond our own understanding into what we have been asking. We believe it is God-breathed and empowered by the Holy Spirit and we will press into this activity frequently in any meeting.

We will go further together than we will by ourselves. Corporate meetings can be alive with the swirling presence of the Spirit and we can know that God is leading us in our “partnering efforts” to stand for our city. The “Harp and Bowl” model allows us to function as a team and press forward together with energy as we seek Him.

What is an Intercession Set?

This specific model of worship and intercession is designed to allow the most amount of people to participate in praying on the microphone and still keep the theme of prayer for the city at the center of our evening. We believe that pressing into God and drawing near to Him in intimacy often results in Him allowing us to feel what is on His heart. It is from this place of revelation that we best understand what He wants us to pray about. We are eager to give space for this and want to respond appropriately when we get leading from God. This is a time when the Holy Spirit is encouraged to blow us in whatever direction He wills. We will focus on prayer for the city of Winnipeg and allow the Lord to guide us in what He would have us focus on for the evening. We believe that as the Lord gives us direction on what to pray, we are partnering with Him in what He wants to see happen. This is an exciting reality: God is letting you know what He is doing and invites you to partner with Him in praying it into reality in our city.

We encourage you to ask the Lord what He would have you pray during the meeting and what passage of scripture could best be used as a starting point for your prayer. Following that, wait for the prayer leader to invite people to come to the mic and pray. Keeping your prayers general enough to allow others to easily agree with them in faith will help all of us remain focused. Consider this as you choose your prayer.

At Sanctuary, we are committed to praying positive prayers that are rooted in scripture. Prophetic Intercession also follows this format, emphasizing the bible as our prayer book and the promises of God for us as His children. All prayers need to match up with scripture in their content and overall focus. This will be to the benefit of all involved and to the glory of God as well.

What is a Worship with the Word Set?

This meeting is set aside to worship through longer passages of scripture as a way of meditating on the truths of the bible and allowing the Spirit to interact with us to take us deeper in knowing God and what is on His heart. We believe that there is great value in taking time to soak in the scripture and what better way to do this than to sing and pray through each passage as the Spirit inspires us and brings depth of understanding.

The method is simple, really, although it is sometimes hard to grasp at first sight. The worship leader and the prayer leader will work through a predetermined passage of scripture and intersperse it with worship songs, free singing (just lift your voice to God and sing whatever you want…we do it all together and it is an inspiring experience), singing in tongues and prayer as it seems to fit. To best experience this, turn to the passage in question in your own bible, ask for the Lord to help you gain understanding of the verses and then go with the flow. The team will lead you along and soon you will be meditating on the scripture. You’ll love it!

We value the written scriptures as powerful and of great benefit to our ongoing encounter and understanding of God and His ways. We believe that even as we spend time in ever-deepening meditation on passages, we are changed and become more like Him in the way we think (which, of course, is the first step to taking action and doing something). Wholehearted devotion to Jesus is not fully realized without “long and loving meditation” on God (thanks to A.W. Tozer for saying this so well). We believe that meditation is one of the tools that allows for this journey to move forward.

What is a Devotional Set?

We will set aside this time to focus on devotion to Jesus and allow Him to speak how He feels about us. The bible tells us clearly that He loves us deeply…and He likes us too! In Ephesians 1:4 it says “Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.” He had his eye fixed on you even before He was known as the creator of anything. He knows you. He desires relationship with you. Even in our immaturity, He finds us desirable. Let your mind dwell on all that exists and realize that it is for us…for you.

As humans in a fallen world we struggle to realize His heart for us and fail to press into Him because of it. This meeting is set aside to do nothing but fall more in love with Him and let Him show you His heart. It is time well wasted, poured out like perfume on the One you love. We encourage you to prepare your heart to worship and to bring your bible as a main source of God’s interaction with you. The team will worship for themselves in this meeting. We will gaze on our beloved.

This meeting is not a time to intercede for others, but simply to choose the “one thing” that David wrote of in Psalm 27:4 when He said “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple”. We invite you to join us in this…