“Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.” –Genesis 35:14-15
During my first year at Central Union, I set upon the task of cleaning the spire. I was convinced that the room at the top of the spire would make for a perfect prayer room. The only problem (other than the semi-dangerous climb through the clocktower room and past the carillon) was that the room was filled with dust and dirt. With the tremendous help of an extremely gracious church member, we prepped the spire to become an oasis of calm high above Honolulu. It was poised to be a place of perspective, solitude, and prayer.
Prayer rooms are used in a variety of religious traditions. They provide a space for focus. A room is often chosen because it is protected from distractions. Prayer rooms often have very little furniture and may include other tools for prayer such as prayer beads, hand labyrinths, or candles. While we know that God does not dwell in any particular place, we also know that it is helpful to have rooms dedicated to a certain action (e.g. kitchens, washrooms, play rooms, etc).
In the scripture, people are commemorate places where they encountered God. The Holy Spirit is woven throughout creation, yet in our lives there are moments when the divine feels close, or when we encounter truth in a deeper way. In the scripture, those spaces are marked as sacred (typically with standing stones). To be sacred simply means to be set apart. There is no magic to that place but it is set apart because of what happened their and because of the story that took place there. That sacred place reminded the biblical characters that God is faithful and that God meets us where we are.
Setting aside a room or a space in your home as a prayer space can deepen your prayer life and serve as a physical reminder of God’s presence. Having a designated place to pray adds intentionality and focus to your time of prayer. Perhaps you can choose a place free from distractions; a place to center yourself and listen. Your sacred space can be where you add to a prayer journal, or light candle as a prayer, or simply where you go to pause and remember that the Holy Spirit is as close as your next breath.
Interestingly, the practice of keeping a designated sacred space has a way of teaching us that all of creation is sacred.