WARNER ROBINS -- For the first time in 5 1/2 years, the doors were locked at the Warner Robins Prayer Room early this month.
Locked for the first and final time.
“There’s a time for everything under heaven,” said Steve Berman, quoting Ecclesiastes 3:1. “Just like the time came for the prayer room to open, the time came to close.”
Berman, a Warner Robins businessman, said he had the idea for the prayer room in 2005.
“An idea that came to me ‘out of the blue’ while I was meditating on God ... a 24/7 prayer room in Warner Robins,” he wrote in a document created at the time.
The document listed plans and goals for the room, including:
Having a place that’s never locked, with Scriptures on the walls, places to sit and Bibles available for use -- even to take away;
It being a non-denominational setting;
And it being focused on the supremacy of Christ and the glory of the Father.
Berman said he closed the document and decided it was impossible, at least until three years later when in 2008 he said he had to expand his business to an adjacent suite. He didn’t need but half the space and the thought hit him: why not use the other half for the prayer room?
Berman said he nervously approached his investors and landlord with the idea, and asked them to remodel the space to fit prayer room needs. They agreed.
But then, Berman said the city put a ban on the building owner’s permits and the prayer room remodel came to a halt.
“My pastor told me you can build a thousand Sunday school rooms, a new worship center and 10 gymnasiums and the devil won’t bat an eye,” he said. “But build a room dedicated to prayer and he will move all of hell to oppose it. That’s exactly what happened.”
In time, Berman said prayer and God’s will for the room prevailed and permits were issued. The prayer room became a reality, and its doors were opened in 2009 and stayed open for 2,013 days for one purpose: prayer.
News got out and people started coming.
“We printed thousands of prayer request cards with sticky backs and people put some of them on the walls,” Berman said. “We kept it low key and I never hovered over the place, we just let people come pray.”
Though they were never sought or collected, testimonies to answered prayer were also left. Just as Berman refrained from publicizing the prayer room, letting God handle things, he’s hesitant still about telling too many tales of all God did.
“I always felt it was sort of out of my hands,” Berman said. “But God used it. One testimony I can point people to is a response to a blog I wrote about the closing.”
Though Berman sees the beginning of the prayer room as providential, he said the miracles became more obvious in 2013 when his business, Primoris Services, moved to an entirely new location.
“Once we moved,” he said. “It kind of developed a life of its own.”
He said by the time his company left the building, the complex off Smithville Church Road had gone into bank receivership.
But he said both the bank and realty company overseeing it remarkably agreed to let the room sit with doors unlocked. No one wanted to close it.
The realty company even agreed to keep the electricity on and the room remained open with no one in charge, except God.
And Berman said God did a good job.
“There was never a single problem,” he said. “Nothing ever went missing, nothing was left that shouldn’t have been, people would come vacuum and replace light bulbs, there was even a time when all the copper coils in compressors at the complex were stolen -- all except ours. God was watching out for the prayer room. People kept coming.”
Berman said a new owner finally got serious about leasing the space and it was time to move out. He said he never locked the doors, but they were finally locked.
“Personally, I guess the remarkable thing was the faith journey God took me on,” Berman said. “Getting something from him, a call to do something I didn’t think I could do, then seeing him bring it to reality was amazing. He started it in his time and ended it in his time.”
Berman said furnishings for the room were originally donated by his church, The Assembly. As the room closed, he said leaders told him to pass the furniture along.
“We gave the furniture and what little funds we had for the prayer room to Caring Solutions Pregnancy Center here in Middle Georgia,” he said. “I feel good that as the prayer room ended, God passed the resources on to help another ministry so it’s not completely an end. Prayer requests from the room went to my church’s prayer team.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.