Prayer And Architecture

I have two things on my mind today (a record!).

PRAYER. Last Sunday night at our family fellowship, we drew names from a cup and promised to pray for that person all week. To accomodate that, I passed out a card that says, “This week I prayed for your…family, happiness, spiritual life, finances, dreams, health, burdens, and our friendship.” We are to circle the areas we prayed about, sign it, and give it to the person at the next family fellowship. This has helped me focus on one person in prayer for a week. And I know someone is praying for me as well…though I do not know who. It would be great if we did not need such devices, but prayer becomes rare in our frantic lives.

A blog that has become a prayer requst for a preacher’s wife who is dying of cancer can be seen HERE. I encourage you to leave a comment there.

Read this prayer report from Bay St. Louis preacher, Charlie Buckley:

I want to thank you all for the kind and compassionate words of encouragement and prayers concerning my darling wife. Olive was having problems with her heart rhythm, creating a tightness in her chest and making her feel like she was going to pass out. We went to the hospital on Monday afternoon and she was admitted. They ran a heart echo and a stress test on her. We got the results today and they let her come home. They stated that whenever this attack came on she would pass a pvc every two beats {Bigeminy}. They stated that there was no urgent danger as her heart was able to correct on its own. … I was talking with her this morning and asked her how does it feel to know that her name was carried before our Father by THOUSANDS OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST ACROSS THIS GREAT NATION?” With tears it her eyes, she could only say “great” We talked about James’ statement “…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” {James 5:16}. If the prayer of one righteous man avails…what about the prayer of so many of God’s precious children. We are firm believers in prayer and have witnessed so many answered prayers. Our daughter was born when Olive had Toxemia, she had been literally packed in ice because her temperature was so high. The doctors tried to get us to abort Charlie Jr. due to complications; David our youngest was born with spinal meningitis and we were told that he would be a couch potato, never be able to play any sports or go to school. Amy is a successful business woman with a great husband and three children, Charlie excelled in sports in and out of school and has a job with NAVO at Stennis Space Center, David has excelled academically and athletically and is currently going to college with a soccer scholarship, just received a scholarship for Frisbee golf (?) and will try to walk on the baseball team next season. David is focusing his career on forensic science. All three of our children were recipients on many awards from there classmates and teachers and scholarships. I am in remission with an incurable kidney disease after being told I had no hope, and the latest prayers answered were for my loving wife. It is with the utmost sincerity that I thank you for your going to our heavenly Father with me, my wife, our children and grand children in fervent prayer. Do I believe that it is by chance that we have been so blessed… no one in a million life times could come close to causing us to doubt the gracious, merciful power of prayer.

ARCHITECTURE. Only Gary Kirkendall answered my discussion question yesterday. The question was: If our “church buildings” reflected the heart and mission of Christ, what would they look like?

Gary wrote:

Shuller got it right — instead of building a Gothic style building (that required small windows for structural support before the days of modern engineering), or other styles that allow in less natural light than a strip club, he opened his worship space to the world — to the delight of his members and the community. Almost every church building I see has either no windows, or windows of leaded, stained, or other treatment so no one can possibly see what’s going on. No wonder church’s are cut off from the community. Besides that, each facility should support the needs of the community that they have chosen to serve — so each would be different. Spiritual and common sense should tell us that every church should ask itself some basic questions:
1. Why has God placed us here?
2. What gift to we bring to our community?
3. What would be lost if we did not exist?

If we would ask those questions, our campuses would look very different and we wouldn’t depend on the architectural decisions of others.

Gary’s answer was insightful and sparks plenty of other ideas…potential for discussion. I was taugh as a child that the work of the church is evangelism, edification, and benevolence. Most things we do can fall under one or more of those categories. I look at our architecture and wonder why it is not driven by the tri-fold work of the church? As we renovate our building, we all have expectations about how it will look, comfort level, and how it will enhance our weekly worship experience. Typically churches will spend a preponderance of money on a building that is largely used one hour a week by most members, four hours by ‘the faithful few’.

  • If the building were a house of prayer, what would it look like?
  • If the building was designed by ‘the good samaritan’, what would it look like?
  • If the building were designed by those present at the judgment scene of Matthew 25, what would it look like?
  • If the building were designed by the new deacons in Acts 7, what would it look like?
  • If the building were designed by the pharisees ans saducees what would it look like? (Hint: synogogue)

The point is that the church has many duties and it seems to me that we spend millions of dollars as a brotherhood to construct facilities that do no facilitate our God-given duties. And not only that, we complain if anything is constructed that is not in the range of our normal idea of what church is … a place to go once a week.

Tell me why the Salvation Army is housing the homeless, the soup-kitchen is feeding the hungry, and almost no church intentionally offers a place for people to come and find a peaceful place to pray? And why we are generally content to have it so?

Those are my thoughts on a rainy Friday morning on the Coast.


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