JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In a society where time is precious, we are always looking for ways to make things more convenient. That's why drive-thrus are so popular.
From banking to food and weddings, there are drive-thrus for just about everything. But what about a drive-thru church? There's one in Jacksonville that's growing in popularity, and you don't even have to get out of your car to pray.
They wave to drivers, smiling and waiting for someone to turn in. They're not trying to raise money or sell anything. They only have one goal, according to Carolyn Jackson.
"When the people come through, we ask them, 'What is it that you want God to do for you?'" Jackson said.
Jackson is the evangelical leader at The Cathedral of Faith church on West Beaver Street. She helps run drive-thru prayer, a Saturday tradition since 2011.
"Sometimes it was raining, and I said, 'God, Do you want us to go?' He never said not to go. So we were here every week. Cold, heat and sun. Every time we came here, God met us here."
Since they started drive-thru prayer, more than 2,000 people have come through. For a while, the church was doing it every Saturday.
"God said, 'I want y'all to do this every week.' He told me that," Jackson said. "And I said, 'Oh God, I don't know if they'll be willing to do this every week.'"
But they were. In fact, the group there on day one back in 2011 is still showing up every Saturday that drive-thru prayer is scheduled.
So where did they come up with this idea?
The floor director of The Morning Show, Freddie Rhodes, is a member of the church and thought it would be a great way to meet the needs of people in their community. Almost every Saturday, he stands at a busy intersection near the church holding a sign that directs people to drive-in.
Rhodes told us about his sign.
"Actually, it just asks one question: Do you need prayer?" Rhodes said. "So people will come by, they'll drive right in front of the church. They don't have to get out of their car. We just come right to them. We will find out what their need is, we will pray for them and then they will be on their way. Just real quick."
While this started as a mission to help others, Rhodes said they've learned quite a few lessons, too. Like the day a group of teens came by.
"That was really one of the highlights of me doing the drive-thru prayer," Rhodes said. "These type of young men were the type that you think would be the type to do crime. You know the stereotype. So we didn't think they would stop. They stopped, and they had just a sweet personality about them. They were kind, they were courteous to us and they were just receptive of the prayer. So, you just can't judge people by the way they look."
While those teens never came back, so many others return on a regular basis. That is what makes it so rewarding for the church members.
"To know that we have helped so many people that just come by and are just needing prayer, it just feels so good," Rhodes said.
Jackson added that it's also heartwarming when people come back and tell them how the prayers changed things.
"A lady came through, she said that she had just left the hospital. This was on a Saturday," Jackson explained. "So, we prayed with her. She came back some months later and said, 'You may not remember me, but you prayed for us.' She said the relationship between her and her mother was better, her sister is healed. She said that, and I said, 'To God be the glory.'"
No prayer request is too big or too small.
Still, a lot of people never stop in. They drive right by the friendly faces and the members think they know why.
They believe some people could be intimidated, because they don't know 'how' to pray. They said that's the beauty of what they do. You don't need to know 'how.'
Just tell them your needs, and they will do the praying for you.
"Most people are praying for financial needs, family problems. That's a big one that we have. And a lot of people just want to know the Lord more," Rhodes said. "They know that life is short, and they know that there is something after this life."
Drive-thru prayer is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Saturday of every month at Cathedral of Faith, 2591 West Beaver St.
They offer the service other Saturdays as well depending on church activities.
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