Free Prayer 101: Interested in beginning your own Free Prayer ministry? Here are a few tips to get started:
The first time I offered Free Prayer I did so wearing a shirt and tie and sat in a lonely booth in Panera. Nobody stopped. I realized that I probably looked a little shady. I wouldn’t send my daughter to sit on any old white-bearded man’s lap. He’s gotta have the red suit. Clothes matter. This is where the white collar and black shirt that my tradition never ditched really came in handy. Every time since then I have worn my clergy collar and every time since then someone has stopped to talk or to ask for prayer. Consider whether your appearance is inviting.
Better to ask Forgiveness
I set up my sign after buying a coffee and do not ask anyone’s permission. I don’t want to force the manager into a “gatekeeper” role of having to say yes or no. I’ve found that when I have brought it up with managers they mostly shrug their shoulders and say it’s fine with them. I am committed to being a positive presence for the business. I buy their products, invite others to the shop, and if I ever notice that all the tables are full I leave to make room for another customer. I also am mindful to sit in a noticeable place, but not an intrusive place (so not a table right in front of the register or door).
Use Social Media
Every time I set up for Free Prayer I take a picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag: #freeprayer. Digital prayer requests have poured in. Friends and parishioners share or like the posts. And some folks will ask when I’ll be out next because they would like to meet.
Don’t Give Up
The first time is the hardest. I recall how nervous and awkward I felt when I first set up my sign. Let’s face it, it’s kind of weird. But it is worth it. People will look at you and smile. People will tell you that they are Christian too and said their prayers already that morning. People will say it’s a great idea. And someone will stop and ask for prayer, making it instantly worth those fleeting moments of awkwardness. And no, I have never been yelled at. As I said both an owner and a store manager came and asked for prayer.
Create the Right Sign
As you can see my sign is made up of two words that could be seen from across a coffee shop: “Free Prayer.” Underneath I add the Luther quote that adds some commentary to what kind of prayer I might be offering. Not that proselytizing kind. Not the damning kind. Not the charismatic kind. The comforting and inviting kind: “Pray and let God worry.
Let me know if you’d like a sign! As coffee shops pop up and churches close down around the country I think much could be changed if spiritual leaders could be found in every town offering Free Prayer. I can only imagine what God would do with hundreds or thousands of those signs. To that end, a stellar crafter at my church made the sign for me. We’re hoping the idea and prayers continue to spread. We’d love to send you a sign, get connected, and support one another in offering some free prayer. If you’d like a sign please CLICK HERE to make a request.