Not far from the buzz of the corridors populated by chatty delegates and their families and friends, a door leads to what is perhaps the most important room at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Known as the Prayer Room, it’s a fixture of General Conference Sessions and other church events around the world.
In the quietness of that room, people attending the 2022 General Conference (GC) Session can stop by anytime from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for as much time as they want, to reflect on God’s Word and pray.
The idea is simple: to get together to praise the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and present personal or group requests, prayer ministries leaders say.
Outside, smiling volunteers from various places around the world welcome those who come seeking the Lord. Inside, in the center of the room, Gem Castor coordinates dozens of others who, in a circle around him, kneel on pillows, talking to God with the certainty that He is listening. Phrases are usually short and simple.
“I praise you, God, because You are my friend,” one woman prays.
“Forgive us because we are asleep; wake us, Lord,” another adds.
“Help us to be closer to you at every moment,” an old man tells God.
“Father, teach us to pray,” a fourth implores.
In a corner, there is a Private Prayer section that a few people populate on their knees. Their eyes are closed, and their soft words of supplication are barely heard just five feet away.
At the back hangs the Mission to the Cities Prayer Map. It invites every Adventist to pray for the more than 600 cities of the world with more than a million residents. Colored lines connect the cities, as in a subway map. Every person can take a fold-out copy of the map or print copies for local churches or schools.
The Prayer Room also includes a section that encourages visitors to pray for various people groups, including Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. It also invites guests to pray for refugees and immigrants. It is led by Jobson Dornelles Santos, a Bible teacher at Brazilian Adventist University and founding manager of wepray.org. The app, launched at the GC Session in 2015, invites people to send their requests or pray for other people. Since its inception, it has received more than 44,000 requests for prayer.
There are moments for reflection too, led alternately by various members of the Prayer Ministry staff. “Our problem is that we don’t spend enough time with God,” Castor tells the group. “We don’t agonize the way Jesus did. The moment we do, we are going to walk out of this convention with our faces shining.”
GC Prayer Ministries coordinator Melody Mason agrees. “We come here to reflect on the Bible, to pray the Bible, asking God’s help that we may make it applicable to our lives. We give God our praise, our confession, and our supplications,” she says. “It is a combination of praying and getting in the Word and also trying to model to people what they can take to their own churches.”
In the center of the room, Castor continues sharing with those present. He explains that some people tell him they don’t have the talent to pray. “But prayer is not a talent,” he emphasizes. “It’s a desperate call upon God. Indeed, even the call to go and preach the gospel will not be fulfilled if we don’t first spend time with God in prayer. But if we do, we will become unstoppable.”