Acts 16 introduces Paul and Barnabas in the Roman colony of Philippi. This city did not include a Jewish population large enough to necessitate a synagogue, but some Jews or Gentiles who practiced Judaism existed. Where did they gather for worship? The text shares:
12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
These women gathered at a river to pray. This was their “place of prayer.” It was known in the community and became the place where Lydia and others responded to the message of Jesus.
In our Twitteresque lives, a “place” of prayer seems outright ridiculous. Constantly mobile, we work from virtual offices and live virtual lives. Our prayer are now increasingly virtual as a result.
God does call us to pray at all times and in all places, but there is something to be said for a sacred place to pray. Just as most people function better in an office or home that is familiar, we likewise often pray more effectively when we have an established routine, including a particular place. This can apply to both our personal prayers and our gatherings to pray with others in a small group or more formal church setting.
The point is not the place. The point is prayer. But a place can help facilitate pray, leading to deeper, more refreshing experience with our Lord.
Dillon Burroughs is the author or co-author of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of the New Testament in 2011 at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com