Praying Inside the Box

By Terry Tekyl –

I got the idea for Box 3:16 when I was doing a prayer conference at the First United Methodist Church in Senatobia, Mississippi. As a woman pointed out a nice little box for prayer requests sitting outside the fellowship hall, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me the box was in the wrong place.

Later that evening I was eating at a local steak house. After praying over our food, I noticed a lady who was watching us. The look in her eyes almost screamed, “I need prayer.” It was at that moment that I realized the prayer box belonged at the steakhouse for people just like her.

The name of the prayer box came from John 3:16. That verse just seems like an address to God’s hurting people. One of the most penetrating power points of the gospel is the compassion of Jesus. There’s a story in Mark 1 about Jesus encountering a leper: “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, ‘I am willing,’ he said, ‘Be clean’” (Mark 1:41). Just like he had compassion for that leper, Jesus has compassion for each and every person who scribbles a heartbroken prayer on a slip of paper and puts in the box. I know Jesus’ compassion overflows when those prayers are spoken to him.

The point of the prayer box in a public place is to intercept the pain and desperation of people — all people, not just churchgoers — and to ask for their prayer needs. We follow up by praying for them and by sending them a prayer based on the promises in God’s Word aimed at their specific need. When we pray for desperate people, God acts on their behalf. When touched by the compassion of Jesus, God can become real to them and their lives can be changed.

Sure, some of the boxes stay in churches. There are hurting people there, too. But we mainly put boxes where people wouldn’t think they belonged. One man in Florida placed his prayer box by the mailboxes in a trailer park. It seemed like an odd place, but through that prayer box, that man has led 18 people to Jesus. Another woman in Dallas put her prayer box in the dressing room of a “gentleman’s club” and has built a prayer relationship with the girls who work there.

Box 3:16 isn’t a complicated, fancy ministry. It doesn’t have a big budget or a custom design or the endorsement of a celebrity. It’s as simple as prayer. But it works. Those who place boxes first pray about where they should go. Then, they pray for the people who notice the box. Finally, they check on their boxes regularly, even if it sits empty for months. It only takes one prayer to change a life and start a ministry.

The prayer request form has a place for their address. The box checker will craft a prayer in response to their need and mail it to them. If they need peace, a prayer that promises God’s peace (John 14:27). If they need healing, a healing promise (Psalm 103:1-4). If they need forgiveness, a mercy promise (Psalm 23:6).

As Christians, so many of our prayers are cosmetic. We want nice weather, our team to win the game, or a quick parking place. The prayers that end up in the boxes are not cosmetic prayers. They are prayers of the lost, prayers of the hurting, prayers of the broken. The prayers of the lost are 911 calls. It is with a sense of urgency, faith and compassion we pray for the spectrum of broke people the simple little boxes attract.

That story of Jesus and the leper portrays our Lord as a pretty radical evangelist and a pretty radical lover. With that same kind of compassion, power, and love, the disciples prayed for a lame man at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3. Because of Jesus’ impact on the disciples, and their obedience in praying for the lame man, the church grew exponentially. This is the power of love, obedience, and relentless prayer.

Terry Teykl works in the prayer ministry at Faithbridge United Methodist Church in Spring, Texas, and serves as the chaplain for KSBJ, a Christian radio station in Houston. He is the founder of Pray Down at High Noon and is a prayer seminar speaker for districts and local churches. Dr. Tekyl’s books are available through www.prayerpointpress.com.

The boxes can be ordered by emailing tteykl@comcast.net. You can also order several that come with extra request pads and prayers for the side of the box.

 

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