Prayer Summit 2021 Reflection

Nathan Rousu, Jun 10, 2021, 1:39 AM
Nathan Rousu National Catalyst of Vineyard Pulse

We are once again very pleased to have hosted the Vineyard Prayer Summit this year.  For 18 years now, we have set aside time and space to respond to the call of the Lord to gather together as a national family and spend time in His presence in prayer, worship, to hear His voice and respond to His invitations.  Because this has been a very 'different' year, the Prayer Summit was also 'different'.  We took some risks and chose to innovate the format (going online) so that we could again gather, especially during a time where prayer is very much needed.

To riff off of Marshall McLuhan, the medium became part of the message.  While there are far more 'polished and pretty' online formats, we chose to gather online via Zoom.  Instead of being passive observers or consumers, Zoom gave us the ability to interact.  The format enabled the driving values of encounter and engagement.

Through the Zoom technology, we were enabled to gather while simultaneously physically / geographically being spread across the nation.  I believe this was significant, partly for how we physically covered our nation in prayer and partly for how it was an answer to prayers that God would reconnect us as a national family.  The ability of the Zoom breakout rooms to interact greatly aided us in our (re-)connection and engagement in prayer.

This year we had each region of the nation lead a session.  Thursday was led by BC, Friday led by Ontario, Saturday AM led by Atlantic, and Saturday PM led by Prairies & North.  Both a Biblical understanding and a driving value for our Vineyard family has been that 'God speaks to us like rain' (many voices).  Spreading out the leadership of the sessions to the regions allowed us to better put this model of communal participation and discernment into practice.  It was beautiful to be led by different voices with different flavours and yet hear the same invitations from our One Lord.

One long standing feature of the Prayer Summit, one of the ways we listen for the voice of the Lord and respond to Him, is through the expression of creative arts – most commonly music, movement, and visual arts.  A number of pieces of art that have been created at previous Summits have had a long lifespan in the way they have aided our prayers and our memories of what the Lord has spoken to us.  This year was no exception.  We were deeply grateful for the amazing pieces which were prepared and presented by Krista Heide, Rik Berry, and Graham & Coleen Punter.  To view the visual art contributions and the artist write-ups, click here.

During the Prayer Summit a delightful progression of words came forth from different leaders across the nation.  The following is a tiny and incomplete snapshot of a few key words, meant to be like appetizers rather than a reflection of the meal itself.

On Thursday we heard that the church is going through a season of renovation and that now is a time to cry out to the Lord for a spirit of wisdom.  The Lord is resetting the compass of our heart to align with Him again.  We heard a call towards surrender and waiting – being quiet before the Lord.

On Friday, Krista Heide shared a significant message of hope through her visual artwork that found its way into many subsequent prayers.  After worship, we heard a call to repentance over our response to this time with a reminder that Jesus is the head of His church, and we need to relinquish lordship back to Him.  In prayer we asked, where do we see the Kingdom in this season?  Lord help us to partner with your Spirit for the sake of your Kingdom right now, to be salt and light today.  Where we've hit 'pause', help us to activate again.

On Saturday morning, we spent some time in serious reflection and lament over the news of the remains of 215 children discovered at a residential school in Kamloops.  This was linked with the continuing call to repentance and walking out reconciliation with First Peoples.  After worship, we heard a word from Daniel 10 about grief and weariness in exile and transitioning to encounter, to be strengthened.  Rik Berry presented his painting "Behold the Kingdom", in part calling us to be not just occasional visitors to the Kingdom but fully engaged continually.  Jesus is inviting us to follow him, even when we have no sense of where we are – "The captain of the boat knows exactly where you are."

On Saturday afternoon, we started with Graham & Coleen Punter presenting two artworks wherein the first God was inviting us to feast on the treasures at His banqueting table – "have dessert first."  In the second, was a message of hope - "I'm coming out of the night, stepping into the glorious light."  In the middle of worship we entered into prayers for 'undivided hearts' related to numerous issues.  A little deeper into worship, the prayers turned towards the salvation of new believers, for the next generation.  There were prayers for new wineskins to help reach and disciple them.  Towards the end of worship, prayers were focused on healing and restoration for families, marriages, children, discouraged leaders.  There was a sense God was desiring to bring health to the church, to make his people whole so that we can be a healing place for the broken to come.

As we gathered again this year to be in the presence of the Lord and seek His face, God was again faithful to lead us and renew us.

We hope to see you next year!