Making space: Room at Hillside focuses on prayer

Dec 3, 2019

Story and photos by Troy Hill

Hillside Baptist Church in north Phoenix incorporated a prayer room into its prayer ministry a few years ago. The room is secluded from the rest of the church and provides a quiet place for warriors of the prayer ministry or for anyone to go to if they need focused time in prayer.

The prayer room is also available to anyone who just needs a quiet, secluded place to spend time with God. The room is located on the backside of the church and has an electronic code lock so that it may be accessed at any time, not just during specific hours.

Denise Fraley, one of the prayer room’s longest users, says utilizing the prayer room is better than running off into another room in her house to pray.

“It’s very easy to get caught up in what’s going on in your life,” Fraley says. “When I go to the prayer room, that’s my focus. I can just focus and it’s just me and God — me and Jesus.”

Betty Hazelip, a newer user of the room, says she has seen much healing come through time in the prayer room, particularly a baby in the church named “Baby Emmy.”

There is a “start here” folder in the room that gives instructions on how to pray, should the user of the room be new to prayer. There are also multiple books on prayer and pamphlets that can help shed light on the subject of prayer for any user.

Brian LeStourgeon, Hillside’s senior pastor, says even though he doesn’t have any hard evidence for it, he sees the church and its ministries are overall more effective when he is “devoted to comprehensively praying through the needs of the church,” which he typically does in the prayer room.

“Those times that I am serious about earnest prayer for the church, it seems like more people show up for the workday, more people commit to the outreach activity,” LeStourgeon says.

Hillside takes prayer especially seriously, as shown by their devoting an entire ministry to it. Their prayer ministry includes the prayer room, Sunday meetings, special prayer events and even a church prayer coordinator position.

The prayer room has a desk with information and papers on the various people or ministries that need prayer, such as unsaved family or friends, those affected by sickness, local schools or other institutions, the government and local and international ministries.

Hillside has its prayer ministry participants cycle through all of this information so that everyone whose name is listed in the prayer room gets prayed for multiple times throughout the month.

LeStourgeon points to Acts 2:42-47 as to why they are so devoted to prayer. In the passage, it describes the early church’s own devotion to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.

“Prayer wasn’t the add-on thing. Prayer was something that they did as a group,” LeStourgeon says. “One of the big four things that Luke lists as ‘a Holy Spirit led church does this’ is the prayers. Not just pray, not just pray before meals. The prayers.”

Troy Hill, a student at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is a member of Mercy Hill Church in Phoenix.

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