“The Empty Chair”

   An elderly man’s daughter once asked the local minister to come and have prayer with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair was sitting beside the bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.
   “I guess you were expecting me,” he said. “No” said the father. The minister then remarked, “I saw the empty chair, and I figured you knew I was going to show up.” “Oh yes, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
   Puzzled, the minister shut the door. “I have never told anyone this – not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. I had abandoned any attempts at prayer, until one day about four years ago, my best friend told me, “Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with your Heavenly Father.” He continued, “Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see God sitting on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I’ll be with you always.” Then just speak to Him the way you are speaking with me right now.”
   So I tried it, and I liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to a chair, she’d have a nervous breakdown, or send me off to the ‘Funny Farm’.
   The minister was deeply moved by this simple story and encouraged the old man to continue ‘on the journey’. Two nights later the daughter called the minister to tell him, “Daddy has just passed away”. “Did he die in peace?” he asked.
   “Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me, kissed me on the cheek. When I returned from the store an hour later, I found him. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside his bed.” “What do you make of that?” she asked.
   The minister wiped a tear from his eye and told her about what her dad had told him. Finally the minister said, “I wish we could all go like that.”
   There are many ‘reasons’ why we don’t pray as we should. Perhaps we are so busy with handling our own problems, we don’t think about it. Perhaps we just don’t think God will answer our prayers.
   Jesus and His Father were very close, and so as you read Luke, you find him often in prayer for various reasons…
   Luke 6:12 Jesus prays all night. Luke 9:16, Jesus gives thanks for the food (five loaves and two fish). Luke 18:1 Jesus teaches the value of prayer. Luke 21:36 Jesus combines prayer with being alert. Luke 22:19-20 Jesus gave thanks for the bread and similarly, the ‘cup’ at the last supper. Luke 22:39-46, Jesus prays in Gethsemane. Luke 23:34 and 46 Jesus prays on the cross.
   Praying is personal, helpful, and needed, private, and powerful… Why not have an “empty chair” of your own?


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