One of my favorite places on campus is the prayer chapel. It’s a little hole in the wall on the backside of the music building that a lot of students don’t even know exists. This is the story of how I discovered this room. Enjoy!
I was late to prayer and meditation chapel, having lost track of time. By the time I arrived, there were no more blank chapel cards, so the girl collecting them just told me to fill out my information on hers. Since I was late, everyone cleared out before I had read more than a few Psalms.
After awhile I put down my Bible and started to pray. I bowed my head and closed my eyes for awhile, but after a bit, I opened my eyes and stared into space, fading in and out of actual prayer. At this time, I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye someone walk down the adjacent hallway. However, I quickly realized that the form I saw was still there, and as I turned my head to the doorway, a woman stepped hesitantly into the room.
She asked me if I was okay, and I told her that I was, and that the apparently distressed look on my face was due to being lost in thought. We talked about the chapel for awhile, and then she mentioned that there was a small prayer chapel that she frequented located on the other side of the building.
I had never even heard of this place, and asked her to show it to me.
The room was quite small, with two or three little pews, a Bible-laden altar complete with prayer benches, and various devotional books by well-known authors displayed on some shelves to the side. She went over to the books and picked up a women’s devotional Bible. She said that she had her favorite passage marked, but the bookmark had fallen out. Sometimes, she told me, she would sit in the chapel in the evening, and sing aloud the words of the passage she turned to.
Then she walked over to the corner of the room and showed me a book that was displayed on a stand there. It was a journal. As we thumbed through the pages, she told me that they were prayers, mostly written by the same handful of regular visitors to the little room.
I sat down then, and we talked briefly about matters of faith. Then she told me that it was nice to meet me and left. I sat in the pew for a few seconds, and then I stood up, retrieved the journal, and began reading.
The words I found there broke my heart, each entry a poignant Psalm of trust, anguish, or hope.
A man asking God to show him guidance as his weary heart ached from unrequited love.
A woman asking God to help her put aside her trepidation and take her last semester at college one step at a time.
A man giving thanks that his family was willing to talk to one another, even as they all reeled from the death of the mother after her long battle with an “ugly disease.”
A woman asking God for forgiveness for giving in to her lust, and confiding in Him that she just wants someone to tell her she is beautiful for who she is.
I read these words and more, and felt blessed to have the chance to peer into the hearts of these believers, every one of them struggling valiantly to please God and find His will for their life. I felt that I too, ought to contribute to this precious collection.
But what to write?
I once worked with a group of missionaries from Texas, some of the most brilliant men and women I have ever encountered. One of their number was named David. David suffered some minor brain damage after his selfish, out of control life reached a climax as he was thrown, helmet-less head first, over the handlebars of his sports bike. After the accident, he became a Christian, and devoted his life to reaching the lost.
Sitting in that little pew, I remembered a group prayer with those missionaries. As the prayers went around the circle, the missionaries spoke eloquent, powerfully worded prayers.
Then it was David’s turn, and he spoke words that I have never forgotten. Given my struggles of late, I felt his words represented exactly what I wanted to say. I put pen to paper, replaced the journal on the stand, and left feeling a little renewed.
Please keep me from being too fleshy.