- (Photo: The Jackson Sun / Kenneth Cummings)
A Tennessee church that recently installed a 'prayer box' for written prayer requests in their parking lot since many commuters use its property to cut through traffic at an intersection may inspire similar boxes nationwide, say church leaders.
Aldersgate United Methodist Church of Jackson erected the prayer box three months ago wherein individuals could slip in a 3x5 note card with information about their prayer request.
Barry Matthews, lay leader at Aldersgate, told The Christian Post that since the box received much media attention, other churches have expressed an interest in undertaking similar efforts.
"We also have received many requests from other churches all over the country who have asked for more information on our prayer box," said Matthews. "In fact, they're telling us that this is an answer to their prayers. They have similar situations where they have high volumes of drivers pass or go through their church parking lots and have always wanted to find a way to reach them in some way."
Matthews added that before the prayer box got attention from local media, "we were getting about a half dozen prayer requests a week."
"Now that the article has been published in the local newspaper, that number has grown substantially. We're seeing requests that just grab your heart," said Matthews.
"There are so many people out there who are going through challenges in their lives and are searching for answers. What we're trying to do is offer the hope in Christ that we all have and the peace in Him that goes beyond our understanding."
Located at a busy intersection, Aldersgate has an average weekly worship attendance of about 150 to 170 attendees. Last year, church leadership considered creating a way to reach out to the local community through praying for them.
Matthews told CP that he had found a news article about another congregation having established a prayer program for their community and was prompted to tell others.
"I brought that to the attention of our members and told them I thought we could do something like that here. We talked and prayed about it, and as a result, we fully embraced the idea," said Matthews. "We felt God was leading us in this direction and it would be a great extension of our already active prayer group at the church."
To use the box, an individual takes a 3x5 note card, and fills out the date and the prayer request. Included in the box is also a brochure inviting the person to attend worship at Aldersgate.
The prayer box was one of multiple ways Aldersgate has been looking to, in the words of Matthews, "reach out to people outside our church walls."
"Our new team approach emphasizes missions, evangelism, adult and children's ministries, worship, shepherding and visioning," said Matthews. "Instead of concentrating just on ourselves and what our current members want and need, we have boldly and intentionally become more outwardly-focused in recent months."