National House of Prayer, Canada
It’s one thing to pray in front of others, but what about cultivating a hidden life of prayer? When considering this question over 10 years ago, Rob Parker realised, “I wasn’t praying on my own”. Today, Rob and his wife Fran are the founders and leaders of Canada’s National House of Prayer in Ottawa, but it has been quite a journey to get there.
The couple began reading stories of past revivals, and saw the intrinsic link between prayer and revivals. They chose to pray for revival in their local church, and became excited and passionate about what God could do. What followed was far out of their realm of experience, they saw God answer in incredible ways. With a smile Fran says, “We kept being reminded, ‘Well you asked, so I’m answering!’”
"People were yearning to be part of something that is touching the whole nation."
Rob launched a pursuit of prayer walks, firstly around their local community, but eventually he was lead to take a prayer walk across Canada. In 2000, a small team walked over 3,500 km from Calgary to Ottawa, praying as they went. The group received thousands of prayer requests on their journey. People came to them with local issues, or situations to present to the government at Parliament Hill at the end of the walk. Canada is a large country, with towns spread far apart, and the intercessors began to see the isolation issues first hand, “People were yearning to be part of something that is touching the whole nation,” says Rob, “we noticed that the walk was like spiritual glue.”
Rob describes the experience as “gruelling physically and spiritually... As we walked towards a town, God began to show us what to pray and what to speak into that community. For me, it was life changing, and from it God birthed in us the need to pray for government on a daily basis. When we completed the walk in Ottawa, we felt God say that [we had to take] what we were doing on the highways, there now had to be an embassy of prayer.”
This idea ignited something in the couple, “that was the seed that was planted inside Rob of the House of Prayer,” says Fran, “So he told everybody, but he didn’t think we were to do it.”
God had downloaded an idea and strategy for the House of Prayer, but Rob and Fran didn’t anticipate moving and starting it up themselves. “We had just bought a new house, a new car a new hot tub,” mentions Rob, “we weren’t interested in moving, we were comfortable in our church.” But God had caught hold of their hearts with this issue, as Fran illustrates “The prayer walk showed the state of the church at that time. There needed to be a shifting in what we thought and how we prayed about some things. Some areas of prayer seemed untouchable, including government.”
"It used to be fun to be a Christian politician."
Eventually, in 2004, the Parkers were ready to run with the idea of a National House of Prayer, after sharing their plans with their community and getting agreement for the right time to establish the House of Prayer. Rob states that in the process “God helped us to open our hands as we were building the church and helped us realise that it is not our church, it is his church.”
Are Christians and Politicians Opposites?
“It used to be fun to be a Christian politician. We’ve done a really good job of separating church and state to the point where the church no longer honours Christian politicians.” You can hear the passion in Fran’s voice as she speaks, “It was a pretty bad scene for a long time, but God is saying that we can’t do that anymore. He needs people to pray for the government, he teaches about that.” In many places, scripture urges us to leaders, for example 1 Timothy 2:1-3, which was written in a context where the people in authority were tyrants.
‘If we don’t pray for this, where is it going?’
“Canadians can also think that they don’t have a voice, so [the House of Prayer] is to teach them not to be afraid, to gain a knowledge of how things work [in parliament]. To gain just enough understanding so that they realise, ‘If we don’t pray for this, where is it going?’ We need to pray for the people that run our nation.”
This is the purpose of the National House of Prayer in Ottawa, to pray for the Nation of Canada from the place where the most impacting decisions are made. The team pray for all areas of government; every time the house is sitting, their goal is to have people there praying, they pray to support other ministries and Christians on Parliament Hill, and also for specific government leaders and their families.
The House of Prayer has 39 beds, and groups from across the country regularly come to pray. They have the opportunity to meet with and pray for their member of parliament, “It goes to the heart of these people” says Rob.
They also take teams into the House of Commons. The environment Rob describes seems hostile, often full of bickering, with people dishonouring and shouting each other down. Fran gets teams to pray through the day’s newspaper, discerning the issues that might come up during the Question Period. When they have discerned the subjects that might arise, they ask for God’s heart on that issue. “When a member of parliament brings up the issue, we already know God’s heart for it, so we pray that their very minds would be moved by the Holy Spirit to bring righteous decisions to our nation and even beyond Canada. This is something God wants to bring us back to,” explains Rob, “Many nations wouldn’t even equate government and church.”
Called to Influence
The Parkers don’t just keep their work focused on Canada. They have a heart to reach out to the nations with the message of the importance of praying for government. Rob recently visited India, “I began to preach, showing that we are called to influence and have relationship with government. They began to realise that if the church in India prays for government, there is a potential to have influence on 1.2 billion people."
Rob is convinced of prayer’s ability to transform a nation, “We need to see the blueprint that God has for government. It is meant to benefit the people of a given nation. God has called us to a stewardship of our influence. What we pray has potential to affect people in a righteous way, in a just way, making a nation conducive to the gospel... Salvation is linked to praying for government. The spiritual atmosphere becomes conducive in a nation to the message of Jesus Christ.”
The Parker’s passion is certainly infectious. Their conviction and faith stirred up a hunger for prayer in me, after talking to them for just 20 minutes. Their story not only inspires faith to pray for government, but the importance of each of us actively pursuing the calling of God on our lives. When we join together in unity to pray for a nation, to seek God’s heart and his plans, we really can make a difference. Together we can bring his Kingdom to Earth.
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