By Brian Cook
Three people gather quietly around a small table. Their bodies hunch forward as their lips move silently. The drone of electrical machinery whirs around them, punctuated only by the soft rustling of Bible pages and the gentle creaking of chairs.
The sign on the door says “Power Room.” It is a cramped electrical closet situated on the far side of the stage in our worship center. Our church’s facilities have been updated significantly over the years, but its sturdy mid-century bones can still be seen amid the bulky circuit breakers and snaking wires that inhabit this secluded space.
Spare music stands and boxes of duct tape are stacked in one corner of the room. A mysterious wood-paneled contraption stands proudly in another, its regally engraved, gold-lettered plaque proudly proclaiming, “This carillon is given ‘to the Glory of the Blessed Trinity.'” I have no idea what a carillon is.
Scuff marks, strange-colored stains, and the occasional crusty carcass of a deceased cockroach litter the vinyl flooring. But do not be deceived—for us, this is holy ground. This humble and overcrowded closet is our very heartbeat, our epicenter of spiritual activity, our “holiest of holies.”
Every weekend, two or three people gather during each of our worship services and devote themselves wholly to the sacred vocation of prayer. During all of the singing and sermonizing, these faithful few function as intercessors—21st-century priests and priestesses who earnestly petition for the presence, participation, and, yes, power of almighty God to be evident in our midst.
Our prayer team has stationed itself in the Power Room for several months already, but it’s a warm autumn morning before I finally have the opportunity to join in this prayerful labor.
To my left sits Larry, a retired minister from rural Indiana; to my right is Sophann, a retired medical doctor from Cambodia. Both were making disciples and proclaiming the gospel for decades before I was even born. It is profoundly humbling (and somewhat intimidating) to be seated among such time-tested saints; if “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” then for the sake of effectiveness, I am very grateful they are with me.
As the worship team leads the congregation in song, we pray through the lyrics line-by-line. During the greeting time, we pray for the forging of deeper relationships among those gathered. During the sermon, we pray for the Holy Spirit to cultivate a greater degree of receptivity, obedience, and transformation in the hearts of our people. During Communion, we pray that the crucifixion, resurrection, and promised return of Jesus will sustain our people through their doubts and discouragement. We “pray without ceasing” for an hour, interceding in real time on behalf of our congregation.
It gives me deep comfort and confidence to know that all of our activities and operations each week are undergirded by the prayers of the faithful. In everything we do, we are asking, seeking, and knocking—praying for God’s kingdom to come and for his will to be done in our church, city, and world as it is in Heaven.
Sunday mornings have feltmarkedly different since the prayer team took up residence in their homely little compartment. There’s a sense of anticipation, an expectation of greater things to come. There’s a buzz of excitement, an electricity in the air.
But what else could we expect? The lights are on and the circuits are strong.
Brian Cook is an associate minister with Central Christian Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he serves with his wife, Shelly. He recently earned a Master of Strategic Ministry degree from Johnson University Florida.