The Prince George House of Prayer was birthed out of a calling experienced by Marja Kostamo. Here is the story as told by Marja:
The Lord calls for a House of Prayer
In the summer of 1995, the Lord spoke a word to me during a time of abandoned worship with my son, Steve, in our living room. He spoke the words, “24 Hour House of Prayer for All Nations” (Also, He said, “NEW SOUND”). The scripture of Isaiah 56:7 was strongly burned into my heart. “My House shall be called a House of Prayer for All Nations.” Jesus quoted this passage in the gospels –Mark 11:17, Matt. 21:13, and Luke 19:46.
I did not know what this meant but began to pray about this immediately. Within a year, during a trip to Israel, I joined in the All Nations Prayer Convocation in Jerusalem, and was the representative for Canada. I had no knowledge of this convocation until several months before the team I was with went to Israel. The team was going to the Feast of Tabernacles, to a different event completely. In the process of preparation, I became aware of this other convocation happening just prior to the Feast of Tabernacles and just KNEW that I was to attend.
As I made inquiry into this, the Canadian representative (Arnie Bryan of Prayer Canada) told me he would make arrangements for me to be there. It was not an open conference, but by invitation and recommendation. Not long after he called me and asked if I could represent Canada, as he was not able to go. I was stunned. I prayed about it and felt God saying this was His will. I prepared myself the best I knew how and at the conference presented Canada and the 7 main areas of prayer that our nation needed. This 10 day convocation was for the purpose of praying for all the nations of the world. It was a powerful convocation that influenced my life purpose.
This All Nations Prayer Convocation was organized by the Jerusalem 24 Hour House of Prayer. I was intrigued by this as God had spoken the word “24 Hour House of Prayer for All Nations”. I found out that the Jerusalem House of Prayer had been open for a number years on the Mount of Olives. At the conference they shared that there were now 88 houses of prayer around the world. I had a deep sense that I was to establish one.
Two years later, in 1998, I had the privilege of being at the All Nations Convocation again. This time, if I recall correctly, there were already over 200 Houses of Prayer internationally. Today, there are thousands.
God is doing something in the nations!! I did not know about any of this when He first spoke it to my heart.
In 1996, my senior pastor of the Gateway Christian Ministries asked me to join the staff as a prayer pastor. He asked me to write out a proposal of what I envisioned in the prayer ministry of this church. The first thing I shared was this vision of the House of Prayer, saying that I sensed that eventually I would be involved in such a thing, but that I did not have any idea how at that point.
In the summer of 2000, as I had read a book of Mike Bickle’s called Growing in the Prophetic, I felt led to check out his website, Friends of the Bridegroom www.fotb.com – now it has been changed to www.ihop.org. I had heard that they had started a 24 Hour International House of Prayer (IHOP) in 1999 in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. I wanted to know more about Houses of Prayer. The first thing that flashed on the screen was a beautiful advertisement of the Harp and Bowl conference they were having in October. Instantly, I felt I was to go. Within less than two months, two of us were in Kansas City at this conference. This again impacted me and I purchased a lot of material – videos of the teaching sessions as well as the practical classes, CD’s, etc. I sensed this was something that God wanted in Prince George. I had the privilege of attending the House of Prayer during one of the night sets and the presence of God stunned me. Most of the people during the night set were young adults. One girl came and prayed for me and the presence of God was very fiery. She spoke things I had been thinking and praying about. I thought, if this is the level of the presence of God when people pray and worship night and day we NEED to establish one in Prince George.
At the Harp and Bowl conference, Mike Bickle shared that they were going to start a 3 month training for people around the world who feel led to establish Houses of Prayer. When he said that, I KNEW in my spirit that I would be attending one of those courses.
Sharing the vision
I came back to Prince George and shared some of this vision. The Lord had already been speaking to another friend all summer while she was in India for a short term missions trip, about connecting with me. She devoured this material I brought back and began to work at having some Harp and Bowl worship in her worship team. A group of us met regularly to pray about this during that fall and then in the new year started having Harp and Bowl sets. We did this for several years. Also, this worship leaders was deeply moved by the Song of Songs teaching of Mike Bickle and presented it to the Bible School at our church. It became a course that has been taught there and has deeply impacted most of the people who have taken it. It is a powerful course on the bridegroom love of Jesus toward us and the longing He has for His bride to respond and how it will awaken in her fully before Jesus returns to take His bride.
In the fall and winter of 2002, I began to hear God saying to me the word SABBATICAL, I prayed about this a lot. In the spring of 2003, I was often crying out to God in my journaling, that the time for me to go to IHOP for the 3 months would come soon. I was getting desperate just to have undivided time in seeking the Lord. Then when I attended our denominations regional conference in Surrey, in several sessions, the speakers spoke of BEING STILL and SABBATICALS. I was staying with my relatives. They told me I had to share the rumpus room with a guest one of the nights. This guest happened, just happened to be Cheryl Anderson, who was coming in to get her family’s visas ready to move to IHOP in Kansas City to become full-time staff there. She was from Calgary. I had met her for 15 minutes the year before in Calgary, while being billeted at her parent’s house. (I was attending the G – 8 Prayer Conference – again praying for the nations, my heart throb). Cheryl dropped in for a few minutes and I found out her family was preparing to go to IHOP. I was stunned. I told her about my call. She immediately pointed her finger at me and said, “When you come, you are staying with us!!!”
Call to IHOP
Now, here I was a year later, and we were bunked together for one night. I told her in amazement that I had just journalled a few days prior to coming to Surrey, that I am desperate to go to IHOP. I read to her from my journal. Again she said, “When you come, you are staying at our house!” God was so preparing this for me – he had prepared a place for me. After the conference I made an appointment to see my pastor and shared all these things that were happening and he said, “I think it is time!’ He brought it up to the board and they released me for the sabbatical.
Also, that summer, the Lord began to speak to me a word that so puzzled me. He said to me during a powerful worship time at the Dominion Conference at the Miracle Channel in Lethbridge, Alberta, through the worship leader “Cast your crowns at my feet, because I want to take you to another level, but you can’t go there until you cast your crowns!” I began to weep uncontrollably. This word was for me!! But what was God saying? I did not understand it with my mind. I began to pray about this and every time I turned around, this same message came to me again and again in many different ways and settings. I was agitated because I did not know what God was saying. I was asking, “Am I holding to my kids, grandkids?? What is it Lord?” I shared it with one of our pastors at our church, as he was also one who preached a message with a story that was repeating this message. He told me not to worry, God would tell me clearly what it was he was asking for. For 9 months, the Lord did not speak clearly, but continued to speak this to me. At IHOP, near the end of my time, my spiritual understanding finally kicked in as I will share.
I went to IHOP for the course February 1 - May 15, 2004. It truly was another major milestone in my life. I put myself into this with all my heart. The course was structured in such a way that half the time was to be spent in the House of Prayer. The classes took about 20 hours. I loved the hours in the prayer room. I took prophetic words written over my family and my journals and my Bible and began to seriously seek God for His heart. I went on a longer fast and the down loads of God began to come. As I said, near the end of the course, during a weekend when I was again asking God what it was He was asking me for, He said, “I want you to establish this House of Prayer as a city House of Prayer. It is not to be under a single church. I want you to step down from staff at our church and launch out on this.” It was quite a revelation. I shared this with my husband and he said that this rang true in his spirit. He had felt for a long time already that my call was for the city, nation and nations.
Tuomo came to IHOP near the end of my time there and attended a Joseph Company conference for marketplace people. They required a day in the House of Prayer soaking before the conference began. Tuomo was ambushed by God. He was overcome by the presence of God for 3 weeks afterwards. Again, I was stunned because I had been crying out to God that I need help to establish the House of Prayer, I would not be able to do it myself. Tuomo was the first one apprehended by God for this and it was burned in his heart. He has remained fixed in this vision and been a great encouragement to me.
Time to Pray!
We returned to Prince George and shared with our pastor and his wife what God seemed to be saying to us. They asked us to go slowly with this. I asked to be released to very part time so that I can have adequate time to pray about this. September 30, 2005 I asked to be released from staff as I felt it was time. For a month the word BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD and THE YEAR OF JUBILEE had kept coming to me. I felt God saying I was to take a year to pray and wait on Him in preparation for this. This word again was confirmed in many interesting ways. Including, as I was telling Tuomo about it, we drove past a hotel called Jubilee Lodge. He said, “Look!!! That hotel is called Jubilee Lodge! We had been behind a car at the stop lights. Its licence plate said “JUBILEE”!
The months of the fall or 2004, I spent 3 – 4 hours a day at home praying and waiting on the Lord. In January, 2005, one Monday, after the busy Christmas season with my children and grandchildren, I was again alone with God. I said to Him, “Here I am, do you have anything further to tell me about the House of Prayer?” Later that day, Tuomo called me and told me that a businessman had come to talk to him and ask if I would pray for his business. He would like to hire me for that. Also he asked if I would want to use the rooms upstairs of his building for the House of Prayer. He wanted to give them for that purpose if I felt they were suitable. God is amazing! I came to see them and have been praying there since.
During the year of 2004, I had a number of opportunities to share about this at the Prince George Ministerial. I was asked to share on a panel along with 3 other pastors, about the transition that was happening in our lives (each of us were transitioning in ministry in one form or another). Also at our Pastor’s Prayer Summit in February, I was prayed for regarding the establishing of the House of Prayer. I appreciate the fellowship of the ministerial and have had the privilege of being a part of it for 7 years. I have a burden for the churches and pastors of our city, knowing they carry a yoke and calling of God and need to be lifted up in prayer. That is one of the areas I feel is to be covered in prayer regularly at the House of Prayer.
Open at Last
We officially opened October 2, 2004 with an Opening Celebration of worship, sharing and food. Interestingly it coincided with the Day for the Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem ( a yearly focus by the body of Christ to pray specifically for this - hundreds of ministries and organizations endorse this, as well as tens of thousands of churches)
Also, the first day of the House of Prayer being in official operation was on October 3, which is the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Chuck Pierce, who is an international prophet, spoke that Rosh Hashanah was a very significant time in 2004, saying, there was a shift in the heavenlies, a change in time somehow, a whole new season beginning in God's economy. So , without knowing about this, we felt to open the House of Prayer in October.
Also, a couple of days into PGHOP being open, one of the intercessors had spent several hours waiting on God and worshipping by herself here. When I walked in, she had such joy on her face…a glow and she was very excited. She said she had experienced the presence of God come in a very significant way. She said she saw a vision of a Double Jewish Prayer Shawl come down from Heaven and settle over PGHOP. She had written out her vision and said she saw it as a canopy over the prayer room. Then she began to thank the Lord for the answers to prayer that were going to go up from the PGHOP. She said she had to thank the Lord over and over again.
This story carries on with amazing confirmation…. A few months later, on December 15, 2004, Rob Parker, the director of the National House of Prayer in Ottawa was speaking here at PGHOP. At the end of the meeting, he opened his briefcase and pulled out a DOUBLE TALLITH from Israel– a double prayer shawl!! I was amazed as he began to talk about this and open it up and had it held up as a canopy….I was thinking, “This is the vision God gave about the PGHOP a few months ago!!” Robert went on to say that this shawl was brought into Canada by Chuck Pierce in June, 2005 (I had heard about it). Chuck had been on a journey during the spring in Europe and the Middle East. God had kept telling him that he was receiving a new mantle all along the trip and even prior to it.
When he was ministering in Israel, he was given this prayer shawl to symbolize the new level of authority and anointing he was to be moving into, in prayer, and he was to impart to others. His next stop was Canada. When he was at a conference in the lower mainland, he felt God's presence here in Canada and said, this is the country where the glory of God will begin to be poured out and it will move into the nations.
He was moved to leave the prayer shawl here, in Canada and he asked that it be moved around the nation to impart this new level of prayer authority and anointing. David Demian had it from June until the One Heart Gathering in Quebec City, the end of July. Then he gave it to Rob and Fran Parker of the NHOP. Now it was brought to the PGHOP!! WOW!!