Saturday, May 12, 2007

Make Room for Praying

Sacred spaces solidify churches’ commitment to prayer Raj Dayal

“A church needs to have a commitment to want to become a house of prayer,” says Terry Teykl, author and co-founder of Renewal Ministries, Muncie, IN. And the first step in that commitment is to set aside a space or room for prayer.

There is an increase over the last 20 years of churches setting aside a specific space for prayer, says Teykl, himself considered a warrior in the prayer movement today. These rooms take on all types of sizes and include various interiors that foster an environment for prayer.

After attending a prayer church leaders’ conference a few years ago, the leadership at Perimeter Church in Atlanta, GA decided to implement a prayer room. “On Tuesday evening every week we have a corporate prayer time, where members of the church are invited to come and pray for the church at a two-hour meeting,” says Larry Smith, church elder. “On Sunday mornings we have people praying for the service and on Wednesday evenings twice a year we hold a ten-week class called ‘On Prayer’ that meets in the room.” Perimeter has a weekend attendance of 4,000 to 6,000 and the room is open for prayer during normal church hours.

Specific prayer

The prayer room at Perimeter is about 30 feet by 40 feet and can accommodate about 80 people. The prayer room is an interior room and has only one window, which looks out onto the foyer. The room is decorated with a number of large posters of events that have taken place at the church in addition to maps of the local community and of the world for specific prayers.

“We have prayer stations where there are specific topics that people can pray for,” Smith says. “The room also has a large sitting area with sofas and chairs; we even have a big-screen TV that someone donated where we occasionally watch teaching videos and a stereo system for worship music.” Over the last four years more people have been attending the corporate prayer sessions at Perimeter.

“One reason that we provide a prayer room is so we have a visible statement saying prayer is important in our church,” Smith says.

Another church that is using a prayer room to demonstrate its commitment to prayer is Faithbridge United Methodist Church in Houston, TX, with an average weekend attendance of about 2,000. “Everything we do we cover in prayer; our church was established in prayer,” says Sherri Burkman, prayer coordinator. “We moved into this new facility in April 2006 and we made sure we had a prayer room.”

Bible in the floor

The prayer room at Faithbridge UMC is referred to as the prayer center. The center is located just off the church atrium and is open to anyone during regular hours. The room holds about 20 people and there is seating set up at all times for 12. During the construction the leadership at Faithbridge was able to place a Bible underneath the floor. Because the room was planned during the initial design, church members were able to place special prayer requests — for family, friends, and the world — that they feel will be answered throughout the years. These requests are built into the walls and are planned to be removed in 25 years.

“Our prayer center is one large space with a smaller room inside that we call the prayer closet — where people can be alone to pray and meditate,” Burkman says. “We also have an ongoing computer screen that is continuously updated with prayer requests set up in the room.” The prayer center at Faithbridge also has a military list — for those with family and friends serving in the military — updated weekly so that the church members can keep constant prayer over them wherever they are in the world.

One of the unique aspects to the prayer center at Faithbridge is that within the space there is an area set up for children — not for play, but for praying. “We have a special set of a little table and chairs where children can come and learn to pray. This is part of a pilot project at our church called KinderPrayer — which teaches children how to pray God’s way.”

Structured prayer

At Christ Church of the Valley (CCV) in Peoria, AZ the leadership also decided to provide a prayer room. “We believe that prayer is the whole underpinning of the church,” says Larrie Fraley, prayer pastor. “We wanted to create a place that would be inviting for people to come and spend time in prayer.”

The prayer room at CCV is used for special morning sessions every day for a half hour at 8:00 for structured prayer and is directed by someone to lead for that morning. Prayer partners are also available for people who need to pray with someone.

The room is about 25-square-feet says Fraley. The back part of the room has a map of the world on the wall and there are photos of all of the missionaries from CCV on shelves. The layout of the furniture can be configured in various ways. “We have candles, dimmer lights and meditation music available — it’s an environment that is very relaxing and conducive to prayer,” Fraley says. “People can go to the map of the world and pray for specific missionaries. We also have a photo of President Bush to encourage people to pray for the leaders of our country.”

CCV also has a hill on its property that the leadership and congregation refer to as the prayer mountain. There are stations set up at different stops along a hiking trail set up for specific prayer. This model of prayer stations is the next planned phase for the prayer room.

“We would like to change the room into a prayer war room,” Fraley says. “We want to set up stations configured in a way that someone could literally enter the room and go from station to station — so that prayers are aggressive and pointed spiritual attacks.” The plan is that stations can be set up for various topics such as one for persecuted churches and Christians around the world and another for the AIDS pandemic, and so on.

“Our challenge for next year is to get more men involved in prayer. About 70 percent of those involved in our prayer ministry are women.” Fraley says.

Always open

At International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, MO the prayer room is open and in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has been for more than seven years. While IHOP operates in a separate location, it is still a part of Forerunner Christian Fellowship in Kansas City, MO. Mike Bickle is both the senior pastor of Forerunner and the director of IHOP.

“This used to be a strip mall, the prayer room used to be a grocery store,” says Sharon Riley, a volunteer for IHOP. The prayer room can accommodate about 800 people. There is constant worship and prayer in the main prayer room. New sessions with different worship and prayer leaders begin every two hours.

“The purpose of the prayer room and this entire center is to usher in the Second Coming,” Riley says. There are adjoining rooms to the main prayer room. “One room is set up specifically to pray for Israel. There are also healing rooms and prophecy rooms,” says Riley. Also, red lines on the floor designate a special place to pray to abolish abortion.

While the main prayer room is open for worship and prayer 24/7, appointments must be made to pray with a staff member for healing or prophetic ministry.

These churches and many others are dedicated to prayer and have set aside specific space to do so. Prayer rooms are an extension of a church’s mission and ministries and provide an invitation for people to join in intercession. The rooms are physical expressions of a commitment and purpose to prayer. Larry Smith of Perimeter Church says, “The room is nice but the prayers are better.”

Churches with prayer rooms

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1 comment:

Brian Francis Hume said...

Phil,

I agree wholeheartedly on the value of the church setting aside a specific room dedicated for the use of prayer. This obviously is of utmost value if the leadership senses a specific calling to the whole "house of prayer" expression. The leadership at my church is seeking the Lord for further clarity as to how we are to birth this house of prayer model at Grace Church of F'burg. However, they did set aside a specific room dedicated to prayer.

Keep up the good work!