The Greater Ontario House of Prayer, or GOHOP, is one of two 24-7 Prayer communities in Canada, based in the city of Hamilton. It was started over 16 years ago by Jill Weber, and today is a simple expression of family and community.
Shira Gamey stumbled into GOHOP six years ago and here, she shares their community story:
What’s your link to 24-7 Prayer?
GOHOP began as a prayer room, founded by Jill Weber, but after reading Punk Monk, she shifted its focus slowly towards inner-city Hamilton, to a more incarnational and missional model of community.
This spirit of hospitality and living with intention is why I became part of this community – I asked to learn from Jill and ever since, have been serving as the prayer room manager at GOHOP.
What is your vision?
My heart and vision is to find an expression of mission and justice fuelled by prayer and that made 24-7 Prayer, and especially GOHOP, a beautiful fit for me.
As a GOHOP community, we strive to cultivate prayer, develop leaders and grow relationships and as a result, people have opened their hearts to receive from the Lord in fresh ways.
How do you foster and grow community?
Our team is intentional about gathering each week over lunch before our meetings. We always meet in a home, eating and worshipping together before ‘getting down to business’. I love that we’re not a group that simply runs a bunch of prayer meetings, but a family that pray together.
We’re also able to foster community by where our prayer room is located. It’s beneath a café in a low-income neighbourhood; we can’t get to the prayer room without being stopped by people who share their lives with us. These interactions have led me to create space to have breakfast in the café each week, to be with the community. There’s also a weekly prayer meeting in the café with those friends who hesitate about journeying down to the prayer room.
What does prayer, mission and justice look like for you?
As well as our prayer room, one of the spaces I get to facilitate prayer and mission in is our prayer truck. Each summer for the month of July, we rent a truck and park it behind a Youth drop-in centre. We ask our friends from other churches to join us to pray for those passing by, as well as inviting individuals who would never set foot in a normal church to come and experience a place of prayer and peace.
It’s an incredible time of cultivating prayer and relationships, and prayer becomes the foundation of our missional work – it’s one of my favourite times of the year.
What do you feel like God is calling you to right now as a community?
Right now, we're in the middle of a staff transition. Jill, GOHOP’s founder, is soon moving to the UK and so our team is shifting to a group leadership model. We’re sad to see Jill leave, but excited for the opportunity to step up as a leadership team and see Andy Groen step into his role as the new director of GOHOP."
There have been many seeds of prayer planted in the ground over the years, and we are learning to be still together as we hear where the Holy Spirit invitations are popping up.
What’s your advice on growing as a community/group/individuals?
Pray that God gathers the right people. I find the best communities grow out of trusted friendships and shared vision. So, start by praying for the right people and then eat, worship and pray together. Creating space to connect and pray together will help create a safe space for experimenting in community.
What is your vision for the next five years?
My prayer for the community here at GOHOP is to continue to grow as friends, and to cultivate a safe culture of experimenting and discerning the activity of God in our city. As things shift and change, and new seasons role in, I hope we’ll continue to learn to love one another well.
I expect that in 5 years’ time we’ll have stories of God’s grace and prayer causing things to grow that we never expected. I can't wait to see the creativity of God's kingdom unfold in new ways!