By Kim Butts
After being in prayer ministry for over 25 years, I have been in hundreds of prayer rooms in churches of every stripe. There are three basic types or prayer rooms I would like to address today:
- The Prayer/Storage Room – this is a “prayer room” that shares space and is not fully dedicated to the purpose of prayer. In many cases, it is used for sound equipment, stage props, Christmas decorations…well, you get the idea. This tells me that a church is definitely not “all in” about becoming a praying church. To be fair, many churches simply don’t have any discretionary space, as prayer rooms usually aren’t in the initial plans when churches build. Church leadership hasn’t yet recognized that prayer is the strategy for the life and mission of the church. People who want to pray in these spaces are often resentful about sharing with those who would use the space for storage and vice versa. Hurt feelings and disunity can be a result of this arrangement.
- The Pretty Prayer Room – this room has been designated as the “place for prayer” in the church. A team of people have put in nice furniture, lovely artwork, etc. But…it isn’t used except on Sunday mornings before church or special and infrequent times of prayer. This room is often confiscated for meetings other than prayer because it is a nice, quiet setting and not utilized very much. Churches feel good because they “have” a prayer room. To this I have to say, “What good is a pretty prayer room that isn’t being used for prayer?” One or more people in the church have created a space for their community of believers to come and pray, but find that the congregation and sometimes even the leaders are enticed to other activities in the church building other than prayer. This can be very discouraging for those who have prepared the room as they are often the only ones who use it. Very few other than those who are already gifted in intercession place value in spending time here.
Both of these first two rooms are usually only accessible when the church building is open or during special times of emphasis on prayer. The life of God working mightily in the midst of His people here may be less than it could be because His people are not yet focused upon the critical necessity of seeking His presence both individually and corporately.
- The Power Prayer Room – kingdom activity happens in this prayer space! People are continually coming and going, creativity is being cultivated, all generations are engaged, and God is receiving much glory as He launches people into His purposes in homes, in the church, the community and around the world. This prayer space is open and available often…sometimes even around the clock for intentional worship and intercession. It can even be a room with an outside access available by keypad or some other arrangement so that people can seek God 24-7. I have seen small prayer rooms built on church property or some other designated location rather than located in the church building. It is in such spaces that God is pouring out blessing and answering prayer. His people are His hands and feet in their homes and community, and actively sharing the love of the gospel. These people are being transformed by Jesus because they are drawing near and pressing into His presence.
By the way, very rarely is the Power Prayer room “pretty” although it certainly can be! It may actually be a bit messy because people are doing the work of prayer. You might see prayer stations that engage the different senses, maps of the nations on the wall, people drawing or painting their prayers, places to kneel, people worshiping (worship IS prayer)…children are welcome in this space and there are age-appropriate prayer stations for them to seek God…and that just scratches the surface.
Is a prayer room an absolute necessity for a church to become a praying church? Absolutely not! But it is often an entry place for many people to learn to stretch and grow in prayer. There is something about coming to a designated place of prayer that invites people to draw apart from the world in order to meet with God. It is a place where individuals, families, small groups or prayer teams can gather to learn how to seek His face and where God is welcome to breathe into the lives of those who desire His presence: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a); “…these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7).
A good way for the leadership of a church to allow people to grow in their life with God is to provide a space where they can learn how to intercede for more than personal needs and issues and be stretched towards God’s kingdom purposes through prayer.
For more information about creative prayer rooms and for ideas, check out my Pinterest pages:
© Kim Butts, Harvest Prayer Ministries