Recently I came across a story about prayer that I found helpful. I hope you will too. The story is about a man who had been confined to bed for many months with a debilitating illness. One day he confided to a friend who was visiting that he had recently found it difficult to pray. The problem had come upon him suddenly and it bothered him greatly since he had always drawn great comfort from his prayer. His friend made a suggestion to him. He said that he should have someone put an empty chair at his bedside. Then, when he was alone, he should look at the chair and imagine that Jesus was visiting him, sitting in that chair. Visualizing Jesus there, he should just talk to him as he would to any other friend and tell him what was on his mind and heart. The sick man tried it and found that it truly helped him because it made Christ feel close to him.
I think the story has two important things for us to consider. First since the Lord is everywhere, he was indeed in that chair. He was truly there with his loving concern for the sick man. The chair helped make tangible the truth that Christ taught us that he would be with us, close to us, until the end of the world. Maybe an empty chair would help us in the same way. Secondly, it is good for us to simply share with the Lord what’s on our minds. Formal prayer certainly is good. Reciting the prayers we’ve learned or that we read from our favorite prayer book does bring us closer to the Lord. But God wants us to come to him openly and honestly. He wants us to share our fears, our hopes, and the joy of our successes and the sorrow of our failures. This sort of prayer between friends can be especially rewarding. So maybe you should have a “Jesus chair” someplace, a chair where you can see the Lord close to you and then just open your hearts to him. He will certainly be there.