Kansas City, KS – Kansas City resident Michelle Ioda woke up early this Sunday morning. As she does on most Sundays, Michelle plans to make the morning worship service at her local church. But this Sunday, she rose a little early so she could visit a nearby prayer booth recently installed by her city council.
“The Chiefs are playing the Broncos. I forgot to go pray last Monday and for all I know, that is why [Peyton] Manning’s ankle MRI came back negative. If I had prayed, maybe God would have sprained it a little more and he would be out this week.”
Ioda’s belief in the power of prayer is fervent and mirrors many of her neighbors, she said. Since the booths were put in throughout town several months ago, Kansas City data tracking confirms that on average, the prayer booths receive over 100,000 callers per week.
“It is therapeutic, that is how we lobbied them through city council,” local pastor Reverend Miles Collier reports. ”We said these prayer booths are not just for Christians, but for any person to take a break to close their eyes, ask out loud for what they need in life and just take a break from it all. It is like having a free counseling session.”
Kansas City crime data confirms Collier may have a point. Since their inception and installation in inner-city testing areas several years ago, crime in the area has decreased in near proportionate manner to the number of people using the prayer booths. With such favorable trends, city council was quick to appropriate more land as ‘park space’ to install these ‘public service monuments of arts and counseling to the people of Kansas City’.
Each prayer booth comes with specific instructions. To avoid legal trouble, Collier said, advisers insisted a disclaimer of religious intent and public safety be installed in each booth.
Each prayer booth comes with clear instructions, plainly telling each caller acceptable ways to use the booth. After the kneelbar is lowered, the caller is to position himself or herself within, to not impede others around them. After issuing their ‘prayer’, the caller is asked to return the kneelbar to an upright position.
A further ‘Warning’ disclaimer mentions the device is installed to designate a public space for such activities, and warns residents that improper use of it will result in a penalty or fine.
The other fine print warns users that ‘religious’ actions may take place within these prayer booths, but is clear to not condone such actions or require such actions.
Nationwide, several other cities have purchased these prayer booths and artists have used them to make public displays as well.
As for Ioda, who is prayed up for Sunday’s big game against the Broncos, “I can only hope the fine people of Denver have not copied these off us yet. With enough prayer, we can beat the Broncos in front of the entire country.”