There are eight outdoor prayer rooms in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden. The prayer rooms use shrubs and trees rather than wood or concrete to separate each area. A bench has been placed in each prayer room for personal intercession with God and private viewing of the beautiful flowers and plantings.
As I stated in my article Design Garden Prayer Rooms With Inviting Paths, I believe that pathways can create a sense of curiosity and intrigue. By positioning the shrubs and trees closely together, each room is secluded from the next – the larger plants also form garden hallways connecting one prayer room to another.
The article below is not new. At the end of 2014, I stepped down from my position as Caretaker of that two-acre garden. Subsequently I removed all webpages from the Gethsemane Prayer Garden website and moved that information to this blog thinking it might be helpful for some people.
Grace Prayer Room
The wooden cross stands eleven feet tall and majestically hovers over this prayer room. Naturally this is the most popular of the rooms. The infectiously abundant love and grace of Jesus Christ is readily apparent here.
Along one side of this prayer room, a series of shrubs, trees, and rocks retell the story of Exodus 33 and 34. The pillars of fire and cloud, Moses, the Israelites, and the two stone tablets are all seen in this reenactment. As the plants mature over the years, this depiction will be more easily seen.
There are four large prayer rooms in the Gethsemane Prayer Garden; the Abiding Love Prayer Room is the oldest and some suggest it is perhaps the loveliest. At the center of the room are two beds of soft pink and brilliant red roses; these roses blossom from June to November. A plethora of other pink, blue, red, purple, and white flowers help make this room a favorite.
Roses are often used to symbolize love and these roses certainly do; to sit here is often an encounter with Christ's agape love.
Prayer gardens should, when possible, have both large rooms for the eye to roam and smaller rooms with fewer distractions. The Intimate Prayer Room is a closely defined space that is particularly good for focusing on the Lord.
For two weeks in the spring, a redbud tree blooms above the bench with showy magenta flowers without the competition of its own green leaves. When the heart-shaped leaves emerge, they provide excellent shade for the bench that sits below it. The summertime shade of the redbud is often a welcome respite on a hot day.
Located under the shade of some tall willows and nut trees, the Reflection Prayer Room overlooks a 20'x25' pond that we call the 'Pool of Siloam.' Directly above the pool is a bed of local and commercially-available shade loving flowers, a soft blend of light and dark green foliage with colorful suggestions of pink, white, and blue.
The quiet ambiance of this area is captured by the pond's reflective character, a small dam with the sound of falling water, and refreshingly cool air as it passes over the water. It is a place to reflect on what God has done, is doing, and is going to do.
The Joyous Celebration Prayer Room, unlike the other prayer rooms, is filled with flowers that are yellow and white. There are some blues, pinks, and purples, but predominantly it has a cheerful yellow theme.
The emphasis on joy is based on the remembrance of several loved ones – while it can be very difficult to loose a parent, spouse, or child, there is comfort in knowing we can celebrate their permanent home with Christ. This prayer room can accommodate a larger number of people that can joyously sit or stand in agreement and support.
When people visit the Worship Prayer Room they often ask, "Why are those rocks there?" The story goes back to 1999 when the first phase of the Faith Chapel building was completed. This 530-seat facility was constructed by volunteer labor in 22 months, never borrowing any money from anyone. That debt free status allowed the church to support missionaries and develop facilities such as this prayer garden.
Joshua created an altar of remembrance after the Israelites miraculously crossed the Jordan River on dry land (Joshua 3 and 4). Similarly we created this stone altar in remembrance of how God helped us complete this facility.
Many people are not familiar with the flower gaura, but what a joy it is! The singular purpose of the Wind and Spirit Prayer Room is to observe the uniqueness of the gaura as it sways back and forth.
Also called the "wand flower", each cluster of blossoms sits on top of a long wand-like stem. The top-heavy gaura seems to dance in the breeze, even when there is seemingly no detectable wind. In the Bible, the Hebrew word ruwach can be translated as both Holy Spirit and wind. As this flower dances, the gaura reminds us of the wind, the ruwach, the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Water is somehow soothing to the soul, especially when under the shade of a tree. Minimal landscaping has been done to this area yet it offers its own sense of serenity. The simplicity of this location is a draw to many prayer garden visitors.
The only flowers in this area are the bright yellow marsh marigold in early May and the tall mauve-colored Joe Pye weed in August; both of these flowers are natural to this area and were placed along this streambed by God many years ago. Frogs, wild ducks, chipmunks, and many birds also draw young children to this peaceful spot.
The result of these eight prayer rooms is an integrated garden with flowered areas that seemingly flow from one area into another. When one sits on any bench in the garden, there is privacy in that prayer room – that is, the other seven benches cannot be seen and it belongs to them unless someone passes by.