Explaining Development: Local Houses of Prayer

In this explanation of one of Tearfund’s development methods we are discussing Local Houses of Prayer. Unlike most of our work, Local Houses of Prayer (or LHOPs), didn’t grow out of East Africa, or South Asia. In fact, they came from much closer to home: Wales. They also aren’t really development! Instead they are Christians doing what comes naturally: praying.

Ffald-y-Brenin is a Christian Retreat Centre by the sea in North Pembrokeshire. Every day those who are staying there join in their daily rhythm of prayer. The centre sleeps about 30 people, and yet each week over five thousand turn up at the door. People pour in from across the world. They regularly see miraculous healing and God’s spirit moving in incredible ways.

Ffald-y-Brenin are encouraging Christians everywhere to replicate this prayer rhythm and to begin their own Local Houses of Prayer. What makes their model distinctive is that these groups are rooted in blessing.

So what is a Local House of Prayer?

‘A Local House of Prayer is a coming together of two or three people, more if possible, with a very clear intention: to see the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, break out with power in their immediate community.’ Roy Godwin, Director of Ffald-y-Brenin
Prayer in the Philippines
Imagine Christians blessing their community after a disaster and reaching out to those around them

Each person in the group speaks blessing over five people who they know. The group also meets together and blesses their local community in God’s name. This idea comes from several places in the Bible where people are described as blessing others.

‘We do believe that one of the things God is doing at the moment is restoring blessing. This thing about ministry of blessing that has been lost… I understood about praying to God that he would bless. But this about us standing in the authority that he has given us and blessing in his name.’ Anne de Leyser, Ffald-y-Brenin

‘Then Aaron lifted his hands towards the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face down.’ Leviticus 9:22-24

A group praying
Local Houses of Prayer can be anywhere and everywhere! Why not start one yourself? All you need is a few friends!

Where is Tearfund using this approach?

This simple idea is changing communities across the world. Tearfund are using it in several countries: Mozambique, Uganda, and Zambia.

Jane works for Tearfund’s partner Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Uganda. They have seen incredible change from their development work but they were worried the importance of God’s presence was being forgotten. LHOP was the answer to that problem.

‘It makes prayer very realistic. You are praying for people and you are seeing their lives change. So I like the way it has been organised. It’s so simple, it’s manageable, everybody can do it.’ Jane Achaloi, PAG, Uganda.

One of our staff members in Zambia described the addition of LHOP to their work as a ‘marriage made in heaven’. Prayer has always been central to our work, but Local Houses of Prayer takes it one step further! Why not try it for yourself? Take a look at their website to see how you can get involved.

We would also recommend watching this video from a group of churches in Belfast who have embraced this rhythm of prayer.

Caroline Barnard
Caroline works for Tearfund in the Connected Church team. She loves reading stories from partners about how they are bringing transformation through their work.