Monday, April 04, 2016

Prayer Room (at Redeemer)

Redeemer Prayer Room, 4/3/16

God gave me a vision to have a Prayer Room in our church building. I felt we were to begin with bare walls, a table, and two chairs. I want the room, at least for now, to be uninterpreted. Because things - icons, painting, photos, drawings, etc. - are an interpretation of this space which channel peoples' hearts and minds into a certain direction. I see this room as being fluid. We'll add or subtract as God leads. In this way it will be like our church's sanctuary, which changes from week to week, as God leads.

The purpose of this room must remain clear: it is for praying. So, as far as I hear God leading me, its beginning must be austere, a relatively blank slate upon which God will write his thoughts on our hearts. Let me further explain.

I did a two-year degree in Music Theory. One of my requirements was to learn some basic piano skills. This, of course, required practice, in a designated practice room.

These practice rooms were empty, except for a piano, piano bench, and a chair for the teacher. Austerity ruled. Music practice rooms are the ultimate anti-sports bar environments. There were no pictures on the walls. There was nothing to divert one's eyes and attention away from the focus, which was the instrument. You cannot learn the instrument without concentration.

I once had a student who was a Coptic monk. He lived at the Monastery of St. Anthony of Egypt of the Fourth Century. He called his room a "cell." His cell contained only a bed and four walls that were bare, except for a cross. A music practice room is a monastic cell, containing one thing, which is the object of one's focus.

Such rooms promote purity of heart. They are places of least distraction, focused environments that are serious about purpose. Within them, the distracted mind is channeled into a river where all things flow.

Jesus told his disciples to pray in their secret room,[1] with the door closed. These rooms were barren and bare-walled, except for perhaps symbols of a fish, or a cross.[2] An uncluttered prayer chamber facilitates focus on God. Undistraction increases the possibility of God-attraction.

            Jesus often withdrew to lonely places where he prayed.[3] In such places, praying is more effective.

My church is a praying church. This room is set apart for us to pray.

[1] Matthew 6:6, tameion.
[2] See, e.g., James Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism, on the discovery of the house of Peter and what was found on the walls. New York: SPCK, 1989.
[3] Luke 5:16