Johannes Hartl - "House of Prayer Augsburg"
11:57PM Jul 8, 2020
Jonathan J. Armstrong
Pay It is our tremendous privilege and honor to be speaking with Dr. Johannes Hartl. Dr. Johannes hospital is a doctor of Catholic theology. He's the author of many books on prayer. And he and his wife in 2005 founded the house of prayer, our export an international movement in fostering prayer across Europe and across the world. Dr. Hot thank you so much for your willingness to share your time this morning. It's my joy. Hello, Dr. heartily if I may begin. You and your wife founded this house of prayer in 2005. And we understand that since 2011, you have fostered at this house of prayer, continuous 24 seven hour a day prayer. What is it that specifically guided your vision and your development in pursuing 24 seven prayer, I
would say it's a three step thing. First of all, I'm coming from little village where a Benedictine monastery was founded in 766. Ad. So those people have been praying for 1300 years. So the idea of continuous prayer is not not a new idea on the block. It's, it's been around for a while. So when I first made a personal encounter with Jesus, I was allowed to say it like that, like those steps into personal discipleship, actually the idea of prayer, what was one of the most clear things in my mind, we then started a little youth movement. And we started to experiment with the, with the idea of 2424 hours of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, which again, is not a new idea. There are many places to do that. We just combine that with contemporary forms of worship. So I would say the first first thing was just monasteries. And monasteries have been doing something like that for for some time. The second thing was just by experiment. ourselves. And then the third thing is what I would call the modern, specially non denominational prayer movement, which would be the house of prayer in Kansas City, very important for us, but also 24 seven prayer movement with Pete Gregg and the Anglican Church in the UK. So actually, at the end of the 90s, we see the rise of different streams of 24, seven prayer that started without having that connection in between them. It's like a myth, the Holy Spirit at the same point of time, and all three of those waves were important for us. So I would say all three of those waves minus three, the charismatic experience that we had ourselves and then the rise the rising of what I would say the contemporary, especially non the non movement of 24 seven prayer, especially the I hope thing in Kansas City, gave inspiration to us and I'm personally indebted to all three of them.
And did you and your wife know that so much of your life would be oriented towards this moment. History of prayer.
It was a two step thing. The first one is when I first before I met my wife, when I first fell in love with Jesus, I, I had the impression that I was called to live a celibate life as an hermit, actually, I was so in love with Jesus to that thought, This is what I'm going to do the rest of my life, just spending time with Jesus. And when I later met my wife, it was actually kind of a vocational crisis. So but then I found peace with with the decision to marry her. But this idea of being called to a life that circles around prayer never really left me. And then the second thing is at the beginning of the 2000s, all these moments that I shared before this impressions, that that prayer, something that's actually happening on the night and day level, in the prayer movement worldwide. Just didn't didn't leave me any more. It has caught it has got hell of my heart. And it was in 2005, when really had the clear impression that this is what we call for to do the rest of our lives,
like your heart are a doctor of Catholic theology and the movement that you have founded there and Alex Bork has its roots in Roman Catholic monasticism, and yet the movement has flowered in such a way that it's definitely touching on other other denominational traditions. You You mentioned interactions with Pete Gregg out of England or the eye hop movement out of Kansas City. How is it that you as a Roman Catholic theologian integrate this movement into this broader interdenominational life?
Yeah, that's the fascinating thing that I that I found that once you put prayer in the center, you have, you have a big thing in common with other denominations without you having to change your theology. So I don't believe in the occult mysticism of theology that much. I don't know What what where the future of that could be, but I do believe in spiritual ecumenism. I mean, if your vision is to pray night and day for your city, let's say, if your vision is to pray to to build a house of prayer for your city, why shouldn't you cooperate with Christians of our faith? If you try to build a church to something else, right, then it's a question about the sacraments and all of that, you see, all of that was dividing us. But if it's about prayer, you have a lot of common ground. So from the beginning, when when we cast vision, to pray, not a day that we're practicing showing up. And honestly, I personally, I wasn't just inspired by the non dormant Protestant expressions, I was deeply inspired by my journeys to the Orthodox part of the world, where First of all, the topic of prayer is more prominent than in western Christianity for a big part, especially among our thoughts. The idea that the Christian ideal is to pray without season First Thessalonians 517 is very prominent and Orthodox well, so I was deeply inspired there as well. I would say He could pray in the middle of the focus. It's pretty hard to escape the necessity of Christian unity.
That's an amazingly powerful statement. Prayer at the center does bring Christian traditions together. And yet, are you willing to share with us practical tips that you would give others who are working in this space of prayer movements? What is it that you found that perhaps bring allows different Christian denominations to work particularly smoothly together in a ministry prayer?
So our house of prayer has around 50 full time staff members and around 120 part time or volunteer staff members, our conferences reach up to 10,000 people And out of those, something like 50%, perhaps zero are Catholic. You know, 30% maybe are non non 20% of class, classical mainline Lutheran something like I said, the whole mixture there. And basically I get that question all the time. What is the secret behind that, why do those people trust you? Yeah, yeah. Aren't you trying to make them Catholic? Are you trying to convert them to turn them around? Whatever? Why do they even come? Or are you still a real Catholic, so many practices computers? thing is there is a simple secret behind that. And that's called the secret of love. See, I've been married for 18 years now. Does this mean that my wife agree on every certain topic? No. There are some situations where we see things differently, especially if my wife see something's wrong, that we see some No, just kidding. There are topics where we disagree, right? Us disagreeing doesn't mean that we stopped loving the union between my wife the unity between my wife and I is not on agreeing on everything. It's about a commitment to love each other. So Jesus prays for the love that will be the common denominator wouldn't be the visible mark of his disciples. I think orthodoxy in a common doctrinal unity is a great thing to have. But unity doesn't start there. Unity starts with love. And once you love somebody, you actually you stop trying to change the person. See, you're still convinced, right? It's not like I'm not I'm not Christian in a vacuum to say, you know, I'm just Mere Christianity, you know, no, I'm Catholic, but if I love my brothers and sisters, I refrain from actively trying to turn them around, I'll be faithful to who I am the same, like in a marriage, like, I don't necessarily have to give up my opinion, but we're going to seek unity because I love my wife. So at the end of the day, unity is not a strategy. It's not something magical thing that you can make. It's actually do you love Christians of other denominations? And most probably most Christians don't even have friends amongst those. So the first step would be, oh, invite somebody for dinner. You know, make friends with them start to have you know, we call it do do friendship, do the love thing, you know, do community do unity. Before before starting about doctrinal things, and once people feel off because love is something you don't read about love is something that you actually actually see. If people feel lost, they will actually come and this is the secret community.
Thank you so much for that, replied Dr. hotter, hotter. You are a an outstanding author in prayer. You've written about a dozen books I understand in prayer, several of which have been translated into English, including heart fire, adventuring into a life of prayer released in 2018. Earlier this year in 2019. Simply pray and in just a few weeks, we'll have another book released, God untamed. When do you do your best writing on prayer, please,
the three books had very, very different origins. The first one, heart Fire, fire, my heart was written in a period of one year in more devotional moments, it's circling around personal encounters that I had. So I did that. mostly out of my personal prayer times. So I would have a one or two hour prayer time. And then I would go for a writing time of one hour. The other two books that were more me setting apart four weeks, five weeks of very focused work on that. But normally to answer your question, my most effective hours of the day, are the hours after my prayer time. So I try for me to you know, the first hours of my day they belong to the Lord, they belong to prayer. And the hours right after that time, they are the most efficient, my mind is clear and filled with vision and creativity. And I really trust the Holy Spirit to give me ideas. And this is where the best ideas actually actually comes to. This is my best writing takes place in those hours
to journal or have any other practices to capture thoughts that they occur to you perhaps in moments of prayer.
Yes, I would say there are two main things the first one actually it's very unromantic. I used To write a lot with a hand but actually I'm using the different Apple iCloud things because I, sometimes I have an idea and I just type it into my, my my iPhone the other time I have it on the computer and I have it on the same iCloud so I could change it around. The second thing is I'm a very graphical, a very, very graphic thinker. So oftentimes I will just paint something. So when I teach if I speak in front of a crowd of people, I always use a flip chart presentation. And for me actually a thought that isn't painted or it isn't symbolized and a symbol most times it's not a thought through thought. So my second book, simply pray circles around simple graphic descriptions of what prayer basically looks to me like so sometimes I would, I have a sketch board, like this amended book and I have on my desktop and I would, I would draw stuff and paint stuff and yeah, 777 like this would be a whole This is actually an evening of tea. On Isaiah. Yeah, so the picture is right there is the mountain of the Lord, there is a tower of Babel. And you know, there was God's salvific history with Israel. So this will be the second important part of my trade.
Amazing. Thank you. Thank you very much for elaborating. Dr. haka you have written a book. I think it's not released in English yet. It's it's missio unmanifested t ism fitness, come back to the kitchen, which would translate into English as mission manifest the theses for the comeback of the church. And in this text, you voice your passion for revival, particularly in the context of Europe, which is your home, if you would be willing to serve what are the primary influences on your own theology of revival?
Yeah, first of all, this book came out of the fact that we had this large several large conferences called Mayor 810 thousand people and we asked, What can we do more than just gathering these people? What can I do to actually help the Catholic Church in Europe to Move forward and the church in Europe doesn't think missional at all. It's a maintainence driven mentality. So we gathered around 100 groups to actually do evangelists, Berg to, to come up with 10 ideas to 10 a manifesto of 10 points that the church could implement in order to become missional. Again. So that was the idea of the mission manifest. My personal theory of revival was fed by two things. The first one is just my personal experience. And the second thing is the study of revival history. Let me start with the second one. It is more a Protestant turn. But if you read Catholic hagiography, you would have like very popular preachers like Bernard of clairvaux, converting the masses, you would call the Crusades. If you're a non non person, you would call that something like revival. So there has been revival in the Catholic Church as well. I define revival as a sudden move of God with a number of unprecedent conversions in a certain region at a certain point of time. And if you study that, you find that it's not all always on the same level, but it's like on certain moments of history, there is this sudden increase of of conversions and of course, the penetration as a society, and you can study which are, which are reasons for that. So this is remounted has to be I did my my own research on that with some 20 or 30 books of 40 books, I don't know. So this definitely shaped my view on that there isn't that much studying on that in the Catholic side, unfortunately. And then my personal experience starting in the 90s, we had those those crazy moments like 20 or 30 of young people who were praying a night through or fasting and really believe in God to do something. And then just the number of our youth group doubled within the next month like from 42 ad and just so many new people came it was like, people were crying and what touched deeply and we invited the Holy Spirit and they were touched into like, like massive way. You can call it revival, call it something else, but we experienced the power of God. And that definitely turned around my view on so called normal Christianity. Because there is a big difference between proclamation of the gospel and proclamation of the gospel is actually empowered by the Holy Spirit. It's a big difference the content can be the same, the effect of the power will will will have will be huge difference.
Your movement that that you are working with House of Prayer, Oxburgh showcases how prayer can serve as this touch point for Christians of several different traditions, many different traditions is evangelism, something to that like prayer different Christian denominations can collaborate in what's your view,
again, for the most non Christians as you Germany's very secularized, not so much like mistakes. It's much more secularized. People who don't believe in Jesus don't care at all. If you're Protestant, reformed, Catholic orthodox, they never heard about something like that. And they don't believe that there is something like God. They believe believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus. Like it's so far away. If you tell them and I'm also Roman Catholic, there's a no idea what that means. So if let's say you have a city like our city, 300,000 people, it last Sunday, we had a big event in the center of the city we call it festival, the goddess celebration for the glory of God. We had the mayor, we have the top politicians of the city there. And we had the Christians of all denominations gathering around 3000 people it was worship and proclamation of the verge, you know, the bishop every everybody was there. If the city sees that the Christians are standing in unity, as Shawn 70 says the world will see because there is so much detail vision of the world. And there is so much division in every world religion that are out. There is a lot of division in Christianity as well. But it's not supposed to be like that. Because to have to be a witness to that society. I think people say, Oh, you're just another sect, you know, you're just another fraction of the fraction. It's just another. Yeah, sect, another cult. Really the testament of Jesus really diluted in the situation. So I would say if you ask how to address the city effectively for the gospel, again, you need cooperation, because every church every difference, dream, every different expression carries a certain charism that the others don't have to reach a house city. We need them all.
Dr. Haku What is the secret to sustaining a movement of prayer? There are two secrets.
The first one is the level of the prayer life of the people. Will never exceed the level of the prayer life of the leadership. So, if you're praying, if you have a praying pastor, a praying priest, if you have a praying Bishop, there's the possibility for the congregation to be prayerful as well. Not a necessity. But if the leadership is not praying, the audience will pray even less. So this is the first thing. The second thing is prayer is like a garden, whatever you plant will grow, but it needs protection. If you don't protect it, if you don't water it, thorns and thistles will grow but the cauliflower flower or the tulips or whatever, you know, what the grapes that you want to grow there will not grow automatically it's a spiritual life is the same thing as like a garden. So as a leader, you have to sell and water with teaching all the time, all the time. You have to come up with structures that protect your prayer life, the prayer life in the congregation, by allow left alone. The people without without vision people perish says Proverbs. So if people don't have a vision for prayer, they will eventually stop praying because the mundaneness of the world, just the sheer pace, the stuff that's going on will draw us away from the, from the place of prayer more time than not. So the leader constantly by his own example, but then also by creating structures and by teaching, have to give focus have to give clarity, and honestly, I underestimated the power of teaching. Honestly, for a prayer, like you would say, are the most important thing is you need music or you need the candle. So use whatever. Yeah, you need teaching, you know, the way to the heart oftentimes go through the hat. So you have to understand why prayer really is important to Scripture and the church fathers in Catholic theology. They teach a lot more The necessity of prayer, we also have to make it practical. How do you do it? How do we implement it in the full everyday life, but we do need to teach. Whatever we teach about and preach about will eventually bear fruit in the life of the church at the community.
Dr. hapa, if there were one overarching vision or goal that you were pursuing in your life of prayer, what would that be? It is reformation.
Sorry for that word, which is very, it's not so theologically correct. But it is about you know, it plays a subtitle if Amanda, I think prayer is the wellspring from which the church renews herself over and over. If I see the church in the West, not so much the rest of the world, I travel to different nations and the church in some other parts of the world is much more prayer filled than in North America or in Europe, much more and much more faith filled. And this is the reason because why it's growing in the most parts of the world. Except for those two regions, we need to return to prayer and out of prayer, not only faith flows, but also funny enough creativity flows, the church becomes creative, if she's a praying church again, but also empathy flows. The world is craving for empathy. And the world is craving for the church to agree with their sinful lifestyle and the name of apathy to say, Oh, please be loving, and say that everything is okay what we're living. And the answer is grace and truth. were never meant to be separate in the life of Jesus. It was always one. So do we need empathy? Yes. Do we need clarity? Yes. Whereas both come together, I think in prayer life, because if you're a prayerful person, Jesus accepts you. Just the way you are just the way you are, whatever, whatever messes in your life, but once you are in the presence of Jesus, you actually are empowered to change. So you don't have to, to live out all your impulses. And if the church's prayer failed, you don't have to go either of those two roles. You'd say, I totally accept the way you are, I embrace you and full of empathy. And yet, I show you a clear path and clarity to get out of the stuff that is in tracking you. So I do believe the price the answer, prayer is not everything. But everything is nothing without prayer, especially in the life of church.
I can hardly if I may close this interview with a question that we've been asking all of the interviewees on this program, and that is this. What would it mean for the church to be united today? How would we recognize this unity and what is it that we as Christians today can do to pursue the Unity for which Jesus prayed and john 17
I do believe the Unity for which Jesus prayed and john 17 is the unity of law. And as I said before, love is something that you can taste. I give you an example at all. Large conferences, we always hire secular people. Because oftentimes the secular people do a better job than the Christians do. Sorry. Like the PA people, you know, the sound people are like people, whatever. And they always would say, you know, I've been to hundreds of conferences, but I've never been to a place where people love each other so much. Well, I feel so welcome where I feel so much positive energy. Christians like what is Jesus says, by the sheer fact that you love one each other people will be able to tell you my service. So I don't necessarily believe in doctrinal unity, because I don't know if doctrinal unity is possible. I don't have an opinion about that. But I do believe in a unity of love. And it starts again, in making friends with the first non Catholic or non Protestant wherever you come from person you can make friends with. Stop speaking negatively about other churches pray for other churches.
Ben are delighted and honored today to be speaking with Dr. Johana Caitlyn. author of many books on prayer and founder of the house of prayer. Alex Borg. Thank you so much, Dr. Jonas hacia, for being with us today. Thank you.