“Johannes Hartl (1979), German theologian, philosopher, a father of four children. Together with his wife Jutta in 2005 they founded the House of Prayer in Augsburg, Germany, a place where since 2011 ecumenical prayer and worshipping have been going on 24 hours a day, throughout the year. Johannes is doing a vlog, he is the author of numerous books, a well- recognised international conference speaker, and is impassioned to conveying God’s stunning beauty and goodness.
Girls, drugs, madness
Johannes was born in 1979 in Mette, Bavaria into a Catholic family. Breaking all the stereotypes, he had quite a life, a youth with full of extremities (girls, drugs) and living alienated from God. “I have never had any negative image on the Church, I just found it boring. (…) Somehow I took life as if it were a school. I thought God was an annoying math teacher, expecting me to do tiresome things just for getting nice scores, while forbidding everything that pleased me.
Thus, already at the age of 14, he started partying with hot gangs. “We were doing stupid things only. Once we travelled to Budapest by train. Goes without saying that we saw nothing of the city, but were drinking pretty heavily instead, doing all kind of madness. We were smoking joints and hunting for girls. Many of this punk group got hooked on drugs.”
A rebellious hippie on a religious conference
He was 14 when his parents took him with them to a religious conference.
“That time I was a rebellious hippie, and thought all these stuff were stupid. (…) People looked like quite normal, and there were many young amongst. Then the music began, and suddenly all the eyes changed, even their face twisted. Whatever you smoke, take less of it – I said to myself. Still, I liked them somehow.” One evening people could go to the front line to pray. Everyone, longing to receive the Holy Spirit could ask for a prayer. Johannes moved up to the front: “I was not praying, just stood there without feeling anything. When the prayer was over I returned to my place, and then I realised the feeling of a change. (…) I had a feeling very much alike to that of the first fall in love. (…)”
That day has just sliced in half my life. My entire previous ideology has collapsed. Why did it happen? Because I have found God without doing anything for it.
Previously I was neither praying, nor fasting. I did not go to church and I was far from being a good, nice boy. Simply, I was an arrogant bastard.”
Big Mac and house of worship
Johannes wanted to become a friar, but finally God called him for another, for a totally different journey. He met his wife and in 2005 they founded the House of Prayer in Augsburg with a vision to seek God day and night. It was in September 2011 when they have reached this goal, the House has become a place where worshipping has been going on around the clock, the prayer room is open 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.
“Filling stations, McDonalds, Fire Works are open 24 hours a day, only we, Christians open our doors for one single hour a week.” – said Johannes Hartl. “I do not think anyone would be stickled on the McDonald’s non-stop opening hours. If I get hungry at 4 o’clock in the morning, I can easily get a Big Mac. Opening 24/7 of the hospitals are also important.
Still, worshipping and glorifying God day and night is even more important. He is worthy to be adored.”
As from 2011 people, mostly young ones, have been continuously present in the prayer house. The house is financed from donations only, it has 18 “full- time” worshippers, who have given up their jobs, are living on charity only and the prayer itself is their one and only mission. The Augsburg prayer movement has followers in Budapest as well. The Watch-Fire Prayer House opened its doors in 2013, they organise glorifying and intercessory prayer meetings and conferences.