Last week I ended six months of intensive, communal living in an inner-city homeless ministry and prayer house where I was in constant loud and crazy human contact. Now, I am alone, staying in my friend’s basement, a two bedroom apartment, in the quiet suburbs, by myself. While I continue to serve regularly at Hope City and encounter God in the quiet, not living in close quarters amongst friends and fellow intercessors, not staying with brothers who are struggling to overcome addictions, not having those late night conversations about the battles and victories we are having in Christ, and not tip-toeing around the new guy, asleep on a cot in the hallway, just to get to the shower; well, what could be as compelling ? Writing this on a memory foam bed, sipping oolong tea, listening to the gentle hum of a dehumidifier, my mind wanders and I find my heart feeling lost and lonely. The extra free time has allowed me to read more, practice a bit more, and begin a part time server job at a restaurant; this is something I had been in desperate need of, simple work that pays a few bills. Aside from that, how unexciting and yet intoxicating is comfort! One of my last, late night conversations at Hope City was about the deceptive and very powerful work of the enemy comfort. Basically, when one is to comfortable, it is easy to become complacent and greedy. I’d rather sleep in bunks and get up early to pray and clean and pray and clean and put together hundreds of bags of groceries for the poor, and pray and clean and bump shoulders with people just like me, hurting, confused, but learning love.
It was so exciting just to eat and sleep in that community that now being apart from it at night has found me lost for how to experience the world of privacy again. I’m convinced too much privacy is dangerous for the soul. Our private thoughts should lead to truth, love, and friendship; instead, they often push us toward regrets and distractions. I’ve learned to remind myself, during this solitary time, what God has done, and to be thankful for it! How fortunate are we to know the Creator and his love?!
Yesterday, I was driving to look at a house that my friend’s step-dad is selling. I’m not able to buy it, of course, but I may house sit, paying only for utilities, for a few months; this is one of many recent financial miracles. Money miracles, like finding money on the ground, are so encouraging, but they are lame compared to when we see them in a friend’s life. While I was driving past University of Missouri at Kansas City, I serendipitously saw a friend, I’d been meaning to hang out with, waiting for the bus. I picked him up and took him to a nearby grocery store where he needed to shop. There by the front door a smiling friend poked his head around the portico column! This guy was in all sorts of financial and legal trouble when he left Hope City, but he said that his lawyer had unexpectedly waved all his fees! He is living at home and working two jobs! He was doing so well and how much that meant to me! These serendipitous happenings are now a regular joy in my life, each an encounter with the power and love of God.
On Thursday, I was playing bass for the morning intercession service and all was quaint until Sam, a rap artist from the neighborhood, started rapping a prophetic word, then our leader sang a prophetic word, then another singer sang prophetically, “Peter, it’s time to step out of the boat…” WOW! The spirit fell, and we had a long period where no one was praying or singing, we were just listening and thinking about what the Lord was saying. Nick was on drums, the other Nick was on electric guitar, and the other Aaron was leading vocals and pounding the keys, so it was the 2 Nicks and 2 Aarons! I couldn’t help but smile as the presence of the Lord swept through the room as we were grinding this intense minor progression with poly-rhythmic drumming and trance-like guitar sweeps. I’m new as a bassist, but while my fingers cautiously walked across the fat strings and joyously found pulsing tones, I realized again how to lift up my love to the Lord.
Intercession is so much more important than most of us would like to admit. Many of the greatest theologians of history devoted their lives to prayer in monasteries. Monks have transformed the world through their prayers for thousands of years. Even though I won’t be living in the Hope City dorms, I will continue to play music and sing at Hope City and at the Global Prayer Room for at least ten hours a week. This is far more than I was accustomed to as a church music director so I’ll need His grace to continue. I’ve been praying about going on staff with this prayer movement, and continuing to partner with them in the inner city. I love encountering the power of God in prayer and interceding for the lost, praying for the church, and learning daily to lean on faith and see mountains moved.
There is a place in between the whispered prayers, hummed melodies, and dark moments of weakness where God’s love and song score our lives with light and hope. It is uncomfortable, gripping, dramatic, but full of hope and peace, and while singing prayers like King David may not be for everyone, the power of God is never absent during our solitary feelings or our silence.