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Church members place needs in God’s hands

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Lisa Crocker was searching for answers. She wanted to know why God hadn’t healed her broken marriage. And she didn’t understand why she had to contend with chronic pain and fatigue brought on by Hepatitis C.
Thinking God must not be listening to her pleas, since there had not been any change in her circumstances, she almost gave up on praying and on God altogether.
Then she heard about a little white building called the “power room,” so named by Old Plank Road Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. At first, the name didn’t seem to fit. The tin-roof building behind the sanctuary contained a small room with no furniture and little ornamentation. But its simplicity was by design — to provide a quiet, private place for prayer.
Crocker was at a spiritual crossroads and tired of standing still, deciding she either was going to go forward on the road of faith or go back to her old ways. And what happened in that room would determine her direction.
“I used to come to the prayer room at night, full of anger, and cry, ‘Why, God, why? Why can’t I be healed? Why can’t my marriage be saved?’
“I didn’t know what else to do or say other than to close the door and scream, ‘Why?'”
Those nights contained some of the most heart-wrenching moments of her life, she recalled, but that’s when she learned how to truly meet God in prayer. Before, she had been telling God about her pain but she had not placed her hurts in his hands. When she gave her burdens to God and trusted him with the outcome, she found something better than answers. She found peace.
“That prayer room is where I found my sanity,” Crocker said. “While I was in utter despair, I felt God’s arms around me and felt him say, ‘I love you.’ I’ve learned that God’s will is not always to heal physically. He wanted first and foremost to heal me spiritually.
“That room means so much to me because of what it represents. It’s where I made the commitment to spend whatever time I have with joy and not let Satan get me down again,” she said.
Crocker’s experience is one of many examples of how the prayer room has revolutionized Old Plank Baptist Church, said pastor Larry McGinley. He was inspired to start a prayer emphasis after attending a Black Creek Baptist Association prayer conference led by Tom Kyzer, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s prayer/spiritual awakening department. As part of the emphasis, the church enclosed an open-air fellowship hall to create the prayer room in 1995.
“When we introduce a person to Christ, we also have a responsibility to introduce him to a growing relationship with Christ through prayer,” McGinley said.
In addition to opening the prayer room to the community, the church uses the room for small prayer gatherings and counseling and has solidified its emphasis on intercessory prayer, including prayer partners and prayer groups for all ages.
McGinley emphasized the prayer room is a way to highlight the importance of prayer, but that “prayer isn’t just for the prayer room; we’re to use it in our daily walk.”
He said there has been renewed excitement as members are seeing God at work in each other’s lives.
After the pastor’s brother, church member Terry McGinley, was laid off from a company where he had worked for 19 years, the brothers and Terry’s wife, Judy, knelt in the prayer room to ask for God’s guidance.
“The Lord had taken me out of my comfort zone,” Terry said. “It was a scary time. It was hard on my family that, after 19 years, I was out of work. I was shocked myself. It was then I knew I was totally dependent on God.”
That night, the family felt God was leading Terry to start his own business, and they received confirmation the next morning when an area shop went up for sale.
“It was a miracle,” Terry said. “God furnished this job for me. He met me and my family in that prayer room, and that’s where a new realization of who he is started with me.”
Judy said she learned, as Crocker did, that stepping out on faith means not just placing things in God’s hands, but leaving them there.
“When we need something, we know to go to God with it first,” Judy said. “And he provides for us-in his way and in his time.”

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  • Kristi Hodge