The Empty Chair
by Max Lucado

A man's daughter had asked the local minister
to come and pray 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 sat beside
his bed. The minister assumed that the old fellow had
been informed of his visit.

"I guess you were expecting me," he said.

"No, I wasn't; who are you?" said the father.

"I'm the new minister at your church," he replied.
"When I saw the empty chair,
I figured you knew I was coming to visit."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man.
"Would you mind closing the door?"
Puzzled, the minister closed the door.

"I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,"
said the old man.
"But all of my life I have never known how to pray.
At church, I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer,
but it went right over my head." The old man continued,
"I abandoned any attempt at prayer until one day,
about four years ago, my best friend said to me,
'Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation
with Jesus.
Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair,
place an empty chair in front of you, and in FAITH,
see Jesus sitting in the chair.
It's not weird or anything because he promised,
"I'll be with you always."
Then just speak to Him, and listen,
in the same way you're doing with me right now.'"

The father continued, "So I tried it.
I've 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 an empty chair,
she'd either have a nervous breakdown
or send me to off
to the funny-farm."

The minister was deeply moved by the story
and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey.
He anointed him with oil and prayed with him.
Then he left.

Two nights later,
the daughter called to tell the minister
that her father had passed away that afternoon.
"Did he die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes. When I was leaving for the store,
he called me over to his bedside,
told me that he loved me,
and kissed me on the cheek.
When I returned an hour later,
he was dead." She continued,
"But there was something strange
about his death.
Apparently, just before Dad died,
he leaned over and rested his head
on the chair next to his bed.
What do you make of that?"

The minister, wiping a tear from his eye, said,
"I wish we all could go like that."


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© Tina's Prayer Gate
February 2, 2004