As we find ourselves on the precipice of a pandemic, Christian communities find themselves facing some hard realities. All around us sports leagues, political debates, and other public events are adapting to meet a world with the Corona Virus. Lebron James might have to play a game without the roar of the crowd. Joe Biden and Donald Trump may not have live cheers and jeers to meet their political stances. And in the Church, there is potential we will have to give up some sacred rituals including passing the peace, receiving communion and perhaps even gathering together as the body of Christ. These rituals have taken root deeply in the hearts of the faithful and it will be painful to put them aside for season.
Perhaps this can be a time when we pick up old traditions that have fallen away. As we harness the power of today’s technology to worship remotely from our homes might I suggest recovering the ancient practice of having a prayer corner there too.
For centuries it was common to have a corner of a room in the house dedicated to the family’s devotions. Perhaps this is where the family would begin their day with scripture or end it with prayer. This practice continues in the homes of our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters where you might find an icon of Jesus or the patron saint of the family as the focal point of the family’s prayer.
Just as God has a physical place in our community in the church and perhaps a physical place on our person in a cross necklace or tattoo, a prayer corner can be a physical place for God in our home.
Jesus alludes to such a place when he says, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)
If we live in a world where the only way we can see our church services is in our homes, why not make it a special place. If this sounds appealing, I would offer the following suggestions:
1) It would be brazen at best to think that the allure of prayer would immediately overcome the allure of TV. When picking the corner, try to find a quiet room away from distraction. Remember this is place where you hope to see and be seen by God. This work is done best away from those other things desiring our attention.
2) Pray about what images or objects help you pray. Maybe a simple cross or an image of Jesus. Maybe just a simple candle or the printout of a significant bible verse.
3) Don’t forget a bible. The bible is where we come to know God better in our hearts so it definitely belongs in God’s corner of our home. Your prayer corner would be a great place for that family bible that you inherited or where you could put your new one
3) Once you have your corner setup, use it! This corner will be sanctified by your prayers. You might include a prayer book if you are not quite ready to offer God your own. Try to pray there every day, even if all you can offer is a “thank you God!” or “help me God!”
Should a Sunday come when you are quarantined to your home, your prayer corner will be a great place to hear your pastor make those familiar jokes and sing along with your favorite sacred music. But more than that it will be a great testimony. It reminds us that God is with us more than Sunday mornings. God is with us more than when remember. God is with us in the nights when we can’t go to sleep. God is with us when we’re fighting with our family. God is with us when our we can’t pay our bills. God always remembers us and a prayer corner will help us remember God. If the Corona Virus gets to the point where we cannot meet in person we will welcome all reminders of God we can get.