For 24 hours, our church wanted to create an environment of continual community prayer, using a variety of Christian resources and methods, including music, visual aids, meditation and scripture. To encourage our church community to utilise the prayer room, individuals were invited to sign up for 60 minutes of deep concentrated prayer within the redesigned space.
Although I initially chose not to partake in the project, a friend encouraged me (forcibly, actually) to participate in 60 minutes of prayer. In truth, I didn't really want to do it. Prayer for me has always been something with which I have struggled throughout much of my Christian walk with God.
I have always considered myself deficient at prayer, unlike Daniel who could pray three times every day. Despite my attempts to avoid the prayer schedule, my name was eventually placed down on the sheet.
The night before my allocated prayer time, God urged me to prepare for the prayer room. After spending several hours reading the 24-7 Prayer manual and scouring their website for information, tips and testimonials, I actually felt excited about using the prayer room.
I wanted to be better at prayer. I wanted to communicate with God more frequently. I wanted to experience different methods and styles of prayer.
So, on Wednesday morning, at 6:50am, I entered the prayer room. This was my experience.
The Prayer Room Experience
It is 6:50am and my mum and I arrive at the prayer room. Although I had a sleepless night I am neither tired nor distracted. Rather I am quite excited to see the formation and contents of the prayer room. As I walk up to open the door, a young man from our church exits the room. His allocated hour of prayer has finished and he looks energetic. He smiles at us, exchanges a few quick words, before he leaves for work.
As I enter the small room I am immediately struck by its warmth and cosiness. The room, a small demountable located outside our church office, is bathed in soft pinks and oranges from flickering candles and fairy lights.
Several small tables hug the walls covered in various materials including bibles, maps, a Globe, newspapers, Christian books and prayer manuals, notebooks, bread and juice for communion, and a CD player with various styles of worship music. At the end of the narrow room a crown of thorns and a large wooden cross are propped in a corner, along with a journal containing several entries from participants.
At first I'm not sure what to do, or where to start. My mum puts on some music, which is both soothing and uplifting. I decide to sit by the cross and I begin to flip through the journal. A few of the entries, written by previous participants, express an anxiety at the prospect of filling an entire hour with prayer.
I feel relieved, I too had this concern. But I am soon encouraged by their words, as many reflect a sense of peace and revitalisation following their hour of crying, praising, and / or talking with God.
Next I decide to sit on a large cushion in the middle of the room and gaze upon a wall covered in poems, messages and prayer requests. I begin to prayer with my mum, for each and every prayer request. We take turns, praying for people with illness and for organisations, we prayer for people in jail and for church ministries, we pray for our church work in Manila and we pray for each other. I cry through most of these prayers. I feel uninhibited; I'm not embarrassed by my tears. The prayer room feels safe, non-judgemental, comforting.
I then take communion whilst listening to a Keith Green song. I will myself not to look at the clock, partly because I don't want to go to work and partly because I don't want my time in this room to end. By the time we have finished communion our time is up, and the next participant will be entering the room soon. We pray for this person, asking God to help them settle and focus as they enter the room.
As I leave the room I am surprised at how quickly the 60 minutes proceeded. I feel as if I could have prayed for hours. I want this feeling that I have to last all day. On the drive home, I feel peaceful. The feeling is almost difficult to describe. I have a busy day ahead of me, but I don't feel stressed or frenzied. Instead I feel a sense of renewal with God. After an hour of devotion, I feel as if nothing in this day ahead of me can unhinge me. I know that I am not alone today. God is always with me.
After experiencing that morning with God in the prayer room, my perception of prayer changed dramatically. Prior to this experience, the use of prayer was exceptionally rigid within my life. I rarely spoke to God throughout the day, almost as if he was off-limits until I spoke to him again at night time.
In the prayer room I was impelled to speak to God during the day. My communication with him felt more focused and purposeful, I was speaking to him with clarity and desire. It made me realise that my approach to prayer in the past has been so rushed and dispassionate.
I now feel as if I could pray at any time of day. God is certainly not off-limits; God does not stop or take a break. He is always on-duty. This project has made me want to talk to God more often. And it has made me realise that he wants that to talk to me also. He wants to talk to me in a prayer before bed, a song of worship and quiet moment in the car before work. Prayer with God has no bounds.
Several weeks ago, my dad wrote a small article in our weekly church leaflet, the Link, regarding prayer and its place within Christians lives. In the article he wrote:
"Don't see prayer as an allocated time, (if you can separate quiet times, that is awesome for your relationship with God), but rather see prayer as your heart, mind and spirit connecting with God in word and action every second of every day".
Let us make every moment of our lives a prayer to God!