Nestled in between the busy brick roads of Athens, Ohio and the college crowd is a place where you can take the weight off your shoulders. Located on 2 S College St., First United Methodist Church offers a prayer box that is mounted on a cross beside the church’s entrance.
Paster Robert McDowell joined the church’s staff in June 2015. After reading an article about other churches that have utilized a prayer box, he thought First United Methodist Church had an ideal location to start a prayer box of their own.
“It seemed like the perfect church to do it because of the amount of college students, professors and business people that walk by the church every day,” said Paster McDowell. “I thought that would be a wonderful symbol of our church and an innovation for people to let us know of any prayer needs.”
The prayer cross has a black box mounted on it. Under the black box is a small container with index size cards and pencils for people to anonymously write down any prayer needs.
Every Tuesday morning at 7:30AM, the morning prayer group meets at the front entrance, collects the cards and prays for any needs left in the box.
Due to Athens being a college town, many prayers involve social struggles faced by college students.
“Most of the prayer needs are related to relationship struggles, and dealing with vices like drinking,” said Paster McDowell. “Finding a direction in life is another category of prayers we get, and that relates to things like grades and finding the right major.”
The prayer box is more discreet way for college students to receive spiritual support. Being away from home along with the pressures of college can make a student feel vulnerable. The prayer box is symbol to show a person that they are not alone.
“It lets people know there’s an anchor there, and that there are people pulling for you,” said Paster McDowell.