Pastor Bob - A Statesman of Prayer for Canada

Intercessors for Canada

Mid-Month Notes - July 2003


"There was a man sent from God whose name was ... Bob!" In fact on December 30th, 1907, God sent Robert Hood Birch to be born in Rounthwaite, just south of Brandon, Manitoba. The future Pastor Bob was actually born in the middle of a snow storm on the best wheat land in Canada. Pastor Bob is now 95 years old and still living with his second wife Margaret in East Vancouver not far from old Saint Margaret's Church (now West Coast Christian Fellowship). Pastor Bob has become a legend all over Canada for his prayer life, his pioneering acts and for his prophetic stand for righteousness. His long anticipated authorized biography, "PASTOR BOB - A STATESMAN OF PRAYER FOR CANADA" by Beth Carson, has just been published and is available by mail order, see below. This is a Canadian book for Canadian Christians about a real Canadian! I have watched my wife, Beth, patiently research this remarkable life for five years. No small job as Pastor Bob was alive in every decade of last century, and many people had at least one anecdote about his godly influence in their lives. At a time when the Church in Canada is coming under intense pressure we can take courage and inspiration from a life that proves that Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today and forever". We need that same spirit of prayer to descend on the church of Canada now.


This is a story of calling, disaster, rebirth and astounding influence, lived against the backdrop of the dynamically growing city of Vancouver through most of the twentieth century. In his thirties, Pastor Bob surfaced miraculously from a deadly disease, alive but burnt-out as a pastor. Thirty years later, reluctantly pastoring at St Margaret’s Church, out of his depth, out of his comfort zone, with problems at home and conflict in his church, this serious 60-year-old was being loosened up by the Holy Spirit and ambushed by a hippy invasion. Through extreme prayer, he led thousands of (mostly young) people to lead lives full of meaning. In his seventies he pioneered Burnaby Christian Fellowship, another cutting edge church, and in his eighties he confronted Vancouver like an Old Testament prophet and established Watchmen for the Nations, a nationwide group of prayer warriors committed to extreme obedience to the Holy Spirit for the sake of the destiny of Canada.

What can we, as intercessors, learn from the life of Robert Birch? These quotes from the book give some answers.


One of young Robert's jobs was to deliver a bucket of milk to a neighbour before school. One morning, carrying the milk, Rob decided to experiment by walking with his eyes shut. Being a thorough child, he didn't cheat. Result: he fell off the sidewalk and spilled most of the milk. He then filled the bucket up with water from the ditch and the neighbour kindly kept the secret.

In his University days, Rob was known as thorough, serious and hard working - lazy friends would copy his notes. He played grass hockey and Canadian rugby, turning out doggedly on frosty mornings wearing clothes that had frozen overnight in the gymnasium.

From a letter telling of his conversion, August 1928: "I wish to forget self entirely and to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit that I may do His will in every smallest thing."

Sermon 1973: "Lord, make me alarmed and make me amazed if I find my love, my zeal, my faith, God's Spirit in me declining."


1965: "Shouldn't we see, in our time, the sort of things we read of in the book of Acts?"

1969: During Sunday services, the hippies would wander in and sit anywhere, not nicely at the back as he had hoped. "How long do I have to put up with this?" he asked. "Until it stops bothering you," was the Holy Spirit's answer.

1970: "Liturgical or extempore prayers - one can be as dead as the other or as living as the other."

1970: "I want you, even as I am speaking, to be receiving this now... Even as the preacher talks, there should be healing; even as we sing, there should be salvation. Something should be happening while we are talking; something is happening while we are praying; something is happening while we are worshiping: it did with Jesus."

Sermon: "If you don't hear from God in the company of God's people, then we are hypocrites; we are a shame and a disgrace."

1996: "I believe it's very serious to preach if you don't have any message from God."


Praying in tongues: "this very sacred gift, of intimate spiritual communion with God."

1967: "Those who most honour the Spirit are given the greatest love for the Son."

It was known that if Pastor Bob didn't hear from God, he wouldn't leave his office... He always wanted to have God's word for anyone who came to speak to him. He didn't speak lightly. People were aware that he was praying as he spoke, listening to God, and they felt he gave them the mind of God.

Sermon: "Don't grieve the Holy Spirit; for if you grieve Him, who will lead you?"

Sermon 1996: I don't think we fully understand how radical it is to be born again. And because we don't understand the radical nature of it, we don't continue to give priority to our spirits. We tend to give more emphasis to our emotions and to our mind."


1967: "It may be for us to choose between the fire of the Holy Spirit in revival, or the fires of Judgement."

1970: "What do you sleep in in the morning for? We haven't long!"

1971: "You say, 'Isn't it awful what goes on downtown?' Have you ever been downtown sharing Christ? You say, 'Isn't it awful what goes on in my neighbour's house?' Well, have you been in your neighbour's house sharing Christ?"

1989 (quoted in the Vancouver Sun during his opposition of the "Gay Games"): "I'm not a young upstart with a fanatical idea. I'm one who realizes the dangers of sin and rebellion against God."


1970: People, young and old, who joined him for prayer in the quiet morning hours, learned how to be still in the presence of God - as one described it, "... learned that God's first language is silence and that listening is foundational to knowing the Lord."

There was a long line of younger people mentored by Pastor Bob, those who walked and talked with him, prayed with him at all hours and learned from him how to hear the Spirit's voice. But it was tough to be mentored by Pastor Bob... On one trip in the mid 1970's, he wore out his young companion with his walking, praying and witnessing, first in Athens and then Jerusalem. As his young companion collapsed into bed, Bob said, "I think I'll tarry a while in prayer." At 4:00 am there he was, still praying next to an unruffled bed.


1970: "What have we done to bring all these people? We were praying in secret; that is all."

1980's & 90's: Pastor Bob traveled in order to pray wherever God led him, to see first hand what the Spirit of God was doing around the world and to encourage other ministries. Like Paul visiting the young men he had left in various cities around the Mediterranean, Pastor Bob was eager to bless and pray for the servants of God.

1991: Just before his wedding, Pastor Bob's young Watchmen friends asked him to a "prayer meeting". When he arrived he found all sorts of old friends there, with refreshments and a gift. He chuckled when he realized he was having a stag party. But the high point of the evening was prayer.

PASTOR BOB - A STATESMAN OF PRAYER FOR CANADA 340 pages, many photographs. To request mail order information, please email

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