I don’t remember which of the leaders made the announcement that Sunday evening during church service, but I remember the subtle invitation for all to be present at 7pm in room 707( before we moved to 703) on Friday evening. I’m not really an extra-curricular kind of person and being a new student, I had no plans of frequenting such meetings either. I decided to go though, just that one time, I mean it seemed like most of the girls went every week and I wasn’t going to be busy that evening so why not? Plus, I didn’t want to come off as not being serious so I went. On the night of November 15, 2015 ( thanks to Sophi for this accurate date), I knocked on the door of room 707 and marked my first appearance at the prayer meeting of the Jiamusi International Christian Fellowship. The first of many.
I’m not the long-hours praying kind and if I’d known that that was what I was walking into, I probably would’ve just stayed in my room. But there I was, in a dim-lit room filled with people I barely knew and they all had such a genuine look of welcome and excitement as I entered the room that I knew it’d be hard to skip future meetings. If only they knew I had no plans of being a regular member…”chill guys, I just wanted to join y’all for tonight.. just tonight”.. I screamed in my head.
The leader of the night gave a verse to introduce and begin the service, followed by what would be later known to me as everybody’s favourite part, praise time. We were led through a series of praise songs (most of which I didn’t know by then) and everyone sang along enthusiastically…. even me, regardless of whether or not I knew the songs. After praise, we were again led solemnly to sing a few worship songs to calm the atmosphere and then the prayer topics begun. I can’t recall the exact topics or order but we were definitely led through thanksgiving, surrendering to the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, etc and whatever other points the other leader was inspired to bring up followed by personal prayer requests and testimonies by the members in attendance.
The process of the prayer started quite smoothly and at a pace I could keep up with but then before I knew what was happening it started raining… as people got deep into prayer, people praying in tongues, voices getting louder, others crying etc… each person deeply in prayer. I was immediately thrown off a bit by the way everything was going because, though that kind of environment wasn’t knew to me, it wasn’t exactly what I grew up with. It wasn’t until later that I also got to understand and appreciate the freedom in the atmosphere once those lights were turned off . In the heat of the moment, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could survive the night or would even return to that room again. I was, at that moment, a round peg in a square hole. I did however realize how each prayer point raised easily moved me to pray as though I was being led. Just before we closed for the night, someone (I think Yara)… called those of us visiting for the first time ( Molly, Sophi and I) to the middle and the rest of the members prayed for us and they just committed our spiritual journey into the Lord’s hands.
My first time attending that prayer service left quite an impression on me, I realised just how much I could actually pray if I tried but also, spiritually I felt out of place because it seemed as though everyone was already far ahead in the walk of faith. By the Grace of God, somehow I didn’t give up. Whatever my soul was searching for, whatever challenge I felt, I still kept going.
Just a few months ago, we celebrated five years of having the Friday prayer service. Coming together and celebrating this anniversary gave me the opportunity to reflect on all the years that had passed and thinking of how spending each Friday night in room 703 had impacted my life.
I definitely wasn’t the same girl that walked into room 707 four years ago, and its been quite an eventful journey for me. For my personal spiritual journey of faith as a Christian, room 703 will always have a spot. For it is in this room that I experienced some of my most intimate moments with God and with fellow brothers and sisters. Initially, I was quite skeptical about opening up to other people concerning things that I was going through and asking their support in prayer, what if they start defining who I am by my prayer requests? I mean I wasn’t big on the idea of sharing testimonies either but at least that meant telling people what was going right in your life right? It was the prayer requests that bugged me you know, because it meant opening up to people and letting them know my struggles.. that after all, I wasn’t perfect. Well, not immediately but gradually, I was corrected of this misconception and actually encouraged. Testimonies aren’t meant to show off just how well one’s life is going, no, they are actually meant to encourage us to continue trusting in God and they are also meant to bring praise and glory to God. There’s a popular saying that goes; “a problem shared is a problem half-solved”, and this is one of the things I’ve come to learn from our prayer meetings because in that room I realised I wasn’t alone. Everyone in there was embarking on their own journey with its bumps. There the silent oath of trust and secrecy prevailed, and the assurance and comfort in the knowledge that whatever one was going through, we were all going through together.For a girl who walked into that meeting four years ago, without so much as a direction in life or my place with faith, religion etc. For a girl who felt lost, not christian enough…. the place that somehow felt strange to me gradually became home.
In room 703, I’ve seen God work through His people, I’ve seen unity live among the people of God. The joy and excitement when prayer requests get answered… everything. Chains have been broken, diseases healed, souls uplifted, and faith renewed with every intercession.
There have been times when I’ve felt the presence of God and times when I haven’t, times when I’ve been powered up to pray the entire time and times when I just can’t seem to find the right words to say… times when I’ve even slept ( countless actually) in the middle of the prayer service… but no matter what, no time spent in room 703 has been a waste.
I guess all I’m trying to say in this post is that do not forsake the gathering of the saints. Everyone has their own story and today I share with you one of mine. I’ll forever be grateful for the first day I walked into that meeting and I’m thankful to God that He’s been with me through it all till now. Special thanks to the brothers and sisters who have always allowed us use their rooms for one meeting or the other. For the brothers and sisters who made every Friday evening worth spending together in prayer . I do hope that each and everyone of you find your own kind of room 703.
I don’t know what my future place will be, but I’m glad that for the others who’ll come after we are gone , they’ll find what I found. Family, faith, God… room 703.
Do you have a room 703 of your own?What has been your experience with group prayers or any such spiritual meetings? Share with me and other readers in the comment section….
As usual, don’t be a stranger.