When we started GODencounters seven years ago, we began with the simple premise of “Returning to the Heart of Worship.” We relied on a collection of young adults and pastors to prayerfully figure out how we might go about bringing this theme to life. Of course we had some ideas about worship sessions and a nifty idea of doing it “cafe style,” but there were other creative ideas that were added to the mix.
[Before I go on, here is a bit of the backstory:]
One of the local churches had gone through a traumatic pastoral transition, it had left the congregation devastated, experiencing pain on many different levels. A member from one of the sister churches in the area decided to construct a prayer room for this hurting church as a way to help the church heal. Many of the traumatized young adults were blessed by the experience of the prayer room, awed by the gift of compassion, some marking it as a turning point. [Okay so back to the main story line.]
As a result, a couple of the young adults were eager to develop prayer rooms for GODencounters. Feeling like the idea of “living a life of worship” would be affirmed in sacred spaces set aside for creative prayer, these young adults created awesome rooms where one could, creatively and experientially, sense GOD’s presence.
To this day, prayer rooms continue to be a characteristic part of GODencounters gatherings. It has inspired other expressions of prayer and the developing of “houses of prayer” in other settings. Clearly prayer changes things.
When I think of an exceptional party, it is filled with conversations. Sure you need good food, an engaging environment, and even decent tunes. But a great party is filled with discussions, chatter, and introductions. There are stories being told, friendships being formed, and small talk that hopes to grow. The life of the party seems to center around the connections made in wonderful, delightful, mesmerizing, and moving conversations. In many ways, a party is making room to foster these connections.
As I think of the 1st century, I often imagine Jesus being the Life of the party. Wonderful stories, meaningful connections. Conversations that included depth, and jokes, and meaning, and politics, and wisdom, and satire, and drama, and laughter.
Sure there was good food at a great spot, likely there was music, and for at least one of the parties, Jesus’ Mom made sure the wine didn’t run out. But you could always count on the party being filled with conversations, buzzing with chatter; And if there was quiet, it was because everyone was listening with fascination [and/or indignation] to the words of Jesus. A great party made room for chatting with Jesus and listening to the GODstories He would share.
In the 21st century, making room for chatting with Jesus is still the main ingredient of the best parties. For many GODfollowers, prayer rooms have made space for such celebrations.
“After one of the messages on the power of prayer, I celebrated my birthday with my friends in the prayer room. That day was one of the best birthdays I have had. Thank you. God bless.” – Shirley Flores, 37, Nursing Professor.
“Yes, GODencounters has inspired me to create opportunity to listen to God’s voice. . . It’s essential to set aside time to give God our undivided attention. Making a concerted effort to give God that undivided time is a life changing decision that GODencounters has caused me to make.”
– Karlene Graham, 17, Pre-med Student at John Hopkins University
“In the prayer rooms, I rededicated my life to Christ and gave all my cares and burdens to Him. I am born again!”
– Kimberly P. Grey, 42, Executive Assistant
These days of devotion are all about making room. . . Making room in our hearts for the kinds of conversations with GOD that inspire awe and laughter, conviction and closeness, belonging and revolution. It is a celebration of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do. We’re making room for a Kingdom-size party. And it all begins with a prayer room, set aside in our hearts.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2Chronicles 7:14
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” – Jeremiah 24:7