I stumbled accidentally upon the ministry of building prayer rooms. I felt like a musician discovering that perfect instrument, or like an artist finding a new medium that perfectly expresses the profound inspirations of the heart. I worship God through creating sacred spaces, places where people can enjoy prayer and experience relationship with God. I’m a cross between an installation artist and a minister of the Gospel—an alternative worship curator.
It is recorded in Exodus 31 that some of the first people filled with the Spirit of God were artists, gifted with wisdom, understanding, knowledge and skill, to make designs and to engage in all kinds of crafts for the sanctuary in the wilderness. Prayer Rooms are really modern day sanctuaries. They are interactive, uniting the senses with symbols that illustrate profound concepts about the love of God.
For over five years now I have been sharing this ministry full time, travelling all over the world conducting weeks of prayer at academies and creating worship art projects and houses of prayer and healing in hospitals and churches. I have seen people healed physically, emotionally and spiritually. More importantly, I have seen people fall in love with Jesus.
So what is so special about prayer rooms? How can a room help people have a profound experience with God?
A prayer room is simply a space that is set apart for God. It is designed for people to feel comfortable and at home in, with stations that help visitors pray in new ways. Sometimes a prayer room will feature a map of the world so that people can pray for different countries, or there will be an addiction wall where individuals can consider what things are interfering in their relationship with God. Sometimes there will be space for people to draw their prayers on walls or to turn their prayers into other forms of art. Each prayer room is unique, designed to help visitors be quiet long enough to hear God speak.
Hearing God's voice seems to be a lost art in our fast-paced world. Yet listening makes up 50% of most relationship-building conversations we have. Listening to God is a difficult discipline, but prayer rooms enable us to hear God share his heart as we share ours creatively. I remember one little boy coming up to me and asking how on earth he was going to pray in a room for a whole hour. He was later surprised to find out that he had stayed in there for four hours!
Catering to Different Learning Styles
Jesus loved using the three-dimensional world around him to teach deep spiritual concepts. I can relate to this method of teaching, as I am a highly kinesthetic learner. Before beginning my prayer room ministry, I realized that most churches cater mainly to auditory learners (who actually make up only a minority of the general population). I wondered how many kinesthetic and visual people had left church simply because they could not relate to the style of teaching used by their pastors and leaders.
Environmental stimulation is essential for healthy brain development in children and adults. Studies also suggest that learning can be vastly improved with the use of environmental stimulation in workplace training. Simply using non-florescent lights, hanging paintings, using fresh flowers and encouraging regular “brain” breaks by providing toys for workers to play with can save money for employers on training and can produce innovative employees. If the business world is finding out how important our environment is to brain health, then we in the church also need to pay attention. Art and beauty must be brought back into our worship spaces.
The most amazing prayer room I created was at Florida Hospital, and it was open 24-7, all day and all night. People who would never set foot in a church found themselves safe in the prayer room expressing their anger, frustration, sadness and joy.
Running a prayer room ministry is both challenging and rewarding. Funding is often limited, but with a little creativity a room can be transformed into an oasis of God's presence. There are resources available on the Internet and in the 24-7 Prayer Manual for those wishing to create a meaningful prayer space at home, church or elsewhere.
I have heard many stories from people who have encountered God in prayer rooms. One teen boy told me just this week how much he was enjoying his own prayer room experience. A theology student shared with me how he had the most spiritual experience of his life in a prayer room.
Why? Because when a person seeks God, God reveals himself, God speaks, God is found. Jer 29.13, Romans 10.20, Proverbs 8.17, John 10.22-30.
God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him. He isn't far from any of us, and he gives us the power to live, to move, and to be who we are. "We are his children," just as some of your poets have said. Acts 17:27-28, CEV.
 Michael J. Gelb. How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci- Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. New York: Dell, 1998.
Nicki Carleton loves to help people create vibrant cultures of prayer within their churches. She builds prayer rooms, conducts children's prayer workshops and speaks on a variety of subjects connected to prayer and the spiritual life. She is independently funded and can be contacted through her website: www.BlissfulMinistries.com.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2563