Prayer and the Chair

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God is like a good father. Or like a good friend. Dr. Leslie Weatherhead liked to tell the story of an old Scot who was quite ill and near death. His pastor came to call on him one morning. When he entered the bedroom and sat down beside him, he noticed another chair opposite him, placed next to the other side of the bed.

The pastor remarked, “Well, Donald, I see I’m not your first visitor today.”

The old man looked puzzled and then smiled and said, “Oh, the chair. Years ago, I was having difficulty praying. I asked a friend for advice, and he suggested that I set a chair across from me when I pray, imagine God sitting in it, and talk to him as I would a good friend. It worked so well, that I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Later that afternoon, the pastor received a call from the man’s daughter. She was weeping. Between sobs she told him that her father had just died. The pastor went immediately back to the old man’s house. As he spoke with the daughter, she expressed her surprise that he had died so suddenly.

“He seemed to be doing so well, I decided to take a nap,” she said. “When I came back in the room he was gone. There is something I don’t understand: his hand was resting on that empty chair beside his bed. Isn’t that strange?”

The pastor said, “No, it’s not so strange. I understand.”

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