A Place Called Prayer -- By: Bill Reid-Allen

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 07:2 (Spring 1990)
Article: A Place Called Prayer
Author: Bill Reid-Allen


A Place Called Prayer

Bill Reid-Allen

Dedication of the Beth Allen Memorial Prayer Room
First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC
December 11, 1988

It is good to be in this place today. It is no accident that I am in this place for this occasion. Place, where events occur, makes a difference.

Three significant events in my life come to mind, all having occurred in this place. They are embedded deep in my memory. Those events are the memorial service for Mary Louise Wagner, the service when Brian was ordained, and the memorial service for Beth. Being in this place today reminds me again of those events and the mixed feelings they give rise to.

Place is important to us. Place helps to give life meaning. We need places, special places and ordinary places. We deal with people and things that are important to us at certain places, and not at other places. We might say to one another, “Oh no, that place is not appropriate for such an occasion. This occasion calls for a special place.” Or, “Well, it’s not the kind of thing I would do just anywhere—I want a place with a certain kind of atmosphere.”

So here we are today, in this place, to dedicate a place, a prayer room, a prayer place. We are saying a place is important when we dedicate it. Why a prayer place? Why are we setting apart a room for all to use as a prayer place?

I think it has something to do with what prayer is all about. When we mention prayer, without saying it we are referring to God and to us, and to the relationship between God and us. We assume that we affect God and that we are affected by the personal contact of prayer.

It’s something like we might say to a friend, someone we care about and who, we trust, cares about us: “Hey, it’s been too long since I’ve talked with you. Let’s get together and catch up on what’s happened. I’ve missed you.”

Then there is the looking forward, expecting, a hopeful knowing that we are going to receive and give something very important. And then during and after the get-together, there is the flow of warmth, of mutual care, perhaps healing.

It is good to be together, to connect with another. It’s like taking a rest, and then continuing our journey. A retreat.

If prayer is real, then we can understand God as our friend: a friend that is with us and sustains. God is the friend of the world; how natural and necessary for us to pray, then.

Sallie McFagne, a theologian living in Tennessee, has said it well.

We ask God, as one would a friend, to be present in the joy of ou...

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