It was 2007 and I was just starting my sophomore year in college. Through a series of unusual events, a bit of providential favor and desperate prayer I landed my own room. I closed the door behind me and began to scope out the place. The thick oak dresser, the twin mattress in the corner and the student sized desk against the wall. My eyes bounced from wall to wall as I began to dream into my first prayer room.
That room holds a lot of memories for me. Lots of song. Lots of tears. Lots of dreams. I bought $5 curtains from Walmart, hung them from the ceiling and draped them from anything and everything I could (think trashcans, storage bins, bed frame). It would be my prayer space, the place I would seek refuge in the Lord, the place I would go to sing, to laugh with God, to bury my face in his chest. It felt very romantic at the time but it probably resembled a barricade out of a scene from Les Mis more than it did a sanctuary. It served it’s purpose, though. It held a space. As much as it had an entrance and an exit it reminded me that I could draw near to God or distract myself from him all-together. And having that reminder in my bedroom, the one place I could not avoid, was exactly what I needed.
Having been a part of the 24-7 Prayer movement for over a decade I am quite accustomed to the question, “Why do I need a prayer room to pray?” The easiest answer is: “You don’t.” But, because that’s rather disappointing, I’ll go with something I heard a Chinese pastor say to her congregation. Why should you consider setting up a prayer room?
“Because the flesh is weak and we need tools to help us stay engaged.”
“Because the spirit is hungry and we won’t be satisfied with empty religion.”
It’s that simple. From the moment you set out to make a space in your home, your office or your church to simply to meet with God, you’ve already begun praying. The intention of your heart is heavenward. Each time you shuffle in a piece of furniture, rearrange a lamp and hang a picture on the wall you say to the Lord, “I am preparing a place for us.” It’s the way a husband lights candles for his bride and lays petals on the bed. It’s the way a friend cuts flowers and sweeps the porch for coffee guests. It’s the folded towel in the guest room, the chocolates on the pillow. Preparation is an act of love, and in this case, an act of worship.
Preparation is only the beginning, though. Once a space is set apart the fun begins. I have learned the more time one spends in their prayer closet the more saturated in presence it becomes. Hear me out…
Have you every revisited a special spot years after making memories there? The driveway where you shot hoops with your dad, the basement where you played truth or dare. The place you got engaged. The halls of your childhood elementary school. If you were to revisit these places you’d probably experience emotions you haven’t in a long time. Depending on the event, you may feel insecure, scared, elated, contented. The place holds significance.
Now let’s say you had one special place where you met with God. A room, or corner of a room where you went to pray. A place where you wept over your children. A place where you journaled your hopes. A place where you regularly brought your disappointments and where he traded them for testimonies. Over time you would accumulate history there. It would be a place of holy activity, sacred silence. A place of belonging. And every time you went away to that special place your expectation would soar. You would begin to know it as a safe place.
A prayer space accumulates the weight of every “Dear Father”, every “Help, Jesus”, every, “Fill me afresh.” There’s nothing inherently “necessary” about it. However, if you find yourself in that beautiful place of surrender admitting that it’s time to prioritize prayer don’t be surprised if he leads you to rearrange some furniture and break out the smelly candles. Our intention to meet with him is worship. It starts with a sacrifice of time and it quickly becomes so much more.
Over the course of the next 40 days I’m going to take our tent and turn it into a prayer space in our back yard. I’ll include a few simple stations as well as some creative, colorful things to make my 3 year old daughter feel welcome. I want to invite you to consider going on this journey with me. A closet. A spare bedroom. The office. Even the garage. If you do decide to take the plunge and designate a spot for his presence, please let me know. I would love to journey with you.
I bless you as you shut the door, light the candle, and open the doors to your heart. God may even surprise you, flip the script, and show you that he has already prepared a space for you.
For more information and inspiration head to https://www.24-7prayer.com/prayerrooms