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Praying to an empty chair

ChairHave you ever felt guilty about your prayer life? I have. I’ve read books and listened to sermons about prayer, and known I don’t measure up to the standard being presented. But trying to pray “right” is a misnomer. It would be like having a conversation with your spouse “correctly.” We don’t do that. We just talk. Prayer is the same thing. We shouldn’t be worried about saying some special words to make God happy, or to convince him to do what we would like to have done. Instead, prayer is about a relationship — like talking to your spouse or a close friend.

Consider this story I read in Thom & Joani Schultz’s book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore:

[PGA golfer and author Wally] Armstrong described how, after spending decades hearing about Jesus in church, he chose to look at Jesus in a fresh new way. He chose to imagine Jesus as a present, contemporary friend”“a companion. He pictured Jesus sitting in a chair beside him.

It transformed his prayer life and his entire relationship with Jesus. He positioned an empty chair in his den. “I began picturing my Friend sitting across from me in the chair and myself talking to him,” he said. The chair experiment, as he calls it, helped to bring him “into the fullness of life and the companionship Jesus had always promised.”

This is the Jesus we’re missing. This is the dimension of faith we’re ignoring. (from

New sermon series beginning September 7.
New sermon series beginning September 7.

When Wally talks to Jesus, his friend in an “empty” chair, he’s praying. Granted, it’s not the hit-your-knees-fold-your-hands-and-bow-your-head type of prayer. But it’s a prayer — one which he reports has changed “his entire relationship with Jesus.”

Beginning this Sunday, Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church is going to begin a series on prayer called Circle Making: The Power of Prayer. We’re not going to make you feel guilty. We’re not going to try to get you to squeeze into a prescribed, formulaic way of praying. Instead we are going to encourage you to enter into a life of conversation which will transform your relationship with Jesus, and the way you look at life. It recently happened for me, and it can happen for you.

Join us beginning this Sunday, September 7.

One Comment

  1. Wendy
    Wendy September 3, 2014

    This is such a good idea, and I have practiced it for a long time. Not only does it help to put me in a relational position, but most importantly it helps me to be quiet and wait for the other half of the conversation. I’m still learning to listen at least twice as much as I speak. It’s a journey

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