'Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.'
Mhairi Smeaton, on the staff of Project 1:17, a young adult school for youth ministry that operates at the Salvation Army's School for Officer Training in Suffern, N.Y., contributed this article, which also contains material from the www.boiler-rooms.com website.
On Jan. 29, 2007, eight months after the 24/7 Prayer effort began in the Salvation Army's USA Eastern Territory, its first 'Boiler Room' opened in Davidson Hall at the School for Officer Training. The Boiler Room is a 24/7 prayer location whose overflowing prayer bowls (Revelation 5:8) are intended to affect the Army's ministry in the world.
The Boiler Room concept is not new to The Salvation Army; we have been doing this for years. In the early days of the movement, after the Holiness meeting (Sunday morning service), before Salvationists would head out to an open-air meeting on the streets, they would spend time at the altar on their knees praying for the people they would meet. The hope was that the conversations would lead to invitations to the evening Salvation Meeting, a church service devoted to preaching the Gospel.
According to the Boiler Rooms website, the name comes from an earlier age of steam 'when boiler rooms powered vast machines and systems. In these places fires were fueled night and day, pistons converted pressure into unprecedented levels of power, and generators turned heat into light for the community.'
The 'boiler room' concept was first applied to the Church when C.H. Spurgeon, a great 19th-century preacher, attributed the success of his evangelistic meetings, which often drew crowds up to 10,000, to 'boiler room' prayer that prepared the way for the meetings.
The first Salvation Army Boiler Room, which opened in September 2001 in Reading, England, has been operat-ing in continuous prayer ever since. The prayer has resulted in changed communities as participants have reached out in creative ways to spread the Gospel and to effect social justice.
The training school Boiler Room is not yet 'licensed' as part of the worldwide Boiler Room community, but the hope is that it soon will be. Still operating, this Boiler Room is intended to serve the entire training school commu-nity—students of Project 1:17 as well as cadets and staff—as a place to not only quiet their hearts before the Lord but also to fire them up for warfare before they take to the field.
A Boiler Room has two purposes: to love God in prayer and to love our neighbors in practice. The hope for the Boiler Room here is that it will be a haven for personal devotions but and heartbeat of 'mission advance' for the future Salvation Army leaders. We believe that God desires a renewal of theArmy, and we don't want that to be some distant future goal. So as not to procrastinate, we have committed to 'pray without ceasing,' to keep prayer as much a part of our lives as is eating or drinking.
Project 1:17's name, taken from Isaiah 1:17, has been boiled down to the verbs learn, work, help, stand, go. We want our students to learn from the Lord, work alongside Jesus, help those for whom the Lord has a heart, stand for justice, and go and make disciples. This idea goes hand-in-hand with the Boiler Room concept.
I pray that you all know the truth: in Jesus, we have the victory. He's already "sorted out" our eternity; as children of God, we know where we are going; we know what is to happen; we have to win. God said so. In agreeing with the Lord's desire for the entire world, let's make sure that that "we" is more than you and me.
We pray that the rhythm and habit of studying God's Word, listening to His voice, and acting on His commands will breed something so fertile that the prayer bowls will overflow freely onto the USA Eastern Territory.