Last weekend Brian and I were out siteseeing near Lancaster, PA and came across a place that made us think of IHOP-KC. At first, anyway. It’s called the Ephrata Cloister, and was started by a German man named Conrad Biessel in 1732. (You can read the history here, if you are interested in more details.) After emigrating to Pennsylvania in search of freedom in worship, Biessel ended up starting a “hermitage” in order to press in to God, since he was unable to find a church that believed as he did. It eventually became a community of about 300 who agreed with Biessel’s teachings.
While we were waiting for our tour of the grounds to begin, we walked through the small museum in the visitor’s center, reading about the history of the place. I began to get excited, because so much of what was said reminded me of IHOP. Like IHOP, members of the cloister lived their lives with a level of revelation of the “Bridal Paradigm”. Their daily schedule included worship and prayer. Worship music played a huge role in their life, and those who weren’t gifted musically created scripture-based art. They eventually set up a print shop in order to print books of their music.
As we continued our tour and learned more about life at the cloister, we discovered that their vision of how to walk out their faith differed significantly from that of IHOP, so I thought I’d share what their life looked like.
- Since we are going to be the wife of God, we are already engaged to Him, so we must be celibate. Getting married in this life is to already have a spouse, and therefore ineligible to marry God in eternity.
- As the future wife of God, we should be as much like Him as possible. Since God doesn’t eat, we should eat as little as humanly possible. This means just one small meal a day, eaten after a full day of work.
- Since God doesn’t sleep, we should do away with that as much as possible.
- Sleeping is a weakness. Therefore we are most vulnerable to the devil getting into our minds (through our dreams)while we sleep.
- Sleeping in comfort opens us up to sleeping too long and too deeply, so beds are 15 inch wooden planks attached to the wall like a shelf. Pillows are 12 inch sections of 4″x4″ lumber.
- Jesus is returning “like a thief in the night” and we must be found waiting for him.
A dormitory bedroom at the cloister. The plank across the back wall is the bed.
Taking all the above into account the daily schedule looked like this:
- 5:00AM-wake up and pray an hour
- noon–break from work for an hour of prayer
- 6:00PM–break from work for your daily meal (which seldom includes meat)
- midnight–wake up and sit in a prayer vigil in the meeting house next to the dormitory until 2:00AM in case this is the night Jesus comes back
- 2:00AM–If Jesus didn’t come back, go back to the dormitory and sleep until 5:00AM
Any takers? 🙂