Why This Baptist’s Favorite Place to Pray is His Local Catholic Parish Church

Michael McDonald

As a Baptist, I watch people in airports, in restaurants, in the mall… and in church. I wish I could focus on God in church, but I just can’t when there are people around.

So there have been times that I have needed to find a church with no people inside to pray. In today’s world, that is not an easy task. I just Googled, “Why do churches lock their doors,” and I found quite a few reasons. It is nothing but common sense I guess: robberies, homeless people, vandalism, etc.

But Pope Francis said that churches should not give in to these kinds of societal pressures. He said, “There are places in the world where doors should not be locked with a key. We must not surrender to the idea that we must apply this way of thinking to every aspect of our lives. To do so to the Church would be terrible. Churches, parishes, institutions with closed doors must not be called Churches; they must be called museums!”

Fortunately, there is a church near my home that is open most of the time. I have never been there except during daylight hours, but it has always been open and there are seldom people there.

Yes, it is a Catholic church and I am not Catholic, but no one has ever tried to stop me from entering and praying. I don’t think anyone ever would, although I’m sure I look very much like an average interloping Baptist.

There are a lot of things I like about Catholic churches:

1) I like Holy Water.

We had some in a Mason jar once. A Catholic friend gave it to us to help sell our house. My wife sprinkled it on me and our son. I’m not sure why. Yes, the house sold pretty quickly after that.

This church has Holy Water in a font at the entrance. I touch it to my forehead going in and coming out. I hope it doesn’t taint the water for others and I hope there are no surveillance cameras.

2) I like those things – I think they are called kneelers.

You’ve seen them.

Catholic people know when to kneel, when to sit and when to stand in the Mass. I’m sure that’s how they identify Protestant visitors in their services. So, when I am there by myself, I put a kneeler down and kneel on it. I don’t think God requires that we kneel before Him, but I think we should.

I always cry when I hear “O, Holy Night” and it comes to that line, “Fall on your knees”.

Every knee shall bow…

3) I like the crucifix.

It gives me someone to talk to. I imagine that He listens to me better if I am looking at Him.

I was visiting someone in a Catholic hospital many years ago with two other men. There was a small crucifix on the wall. One of the men took it off the wall and put it in a drawer. He said, “My God is no longer on the cross.” The other friend who happened to be a Baptist pastor said, “So, why did you put Him back in the tomb?” I wish I had thought of that.

When God answered my prayer

I’m like most Christians I guess. I don’t call on God much except when I need Him. I first visited this neighborhood church when I was in need of a job. I had been looking for months, sent out a couple of hundred applications, and was just about to give up.

I decided to give prayer a shot. I had tried prayer of course, but only in my house or in a church with people. It’s just not the same.

I very tentatively walked through the doors, expecting to be yelled at. No one yelled. I did the Holy Water thing and the kneeler thing and I talked to the Man on the Cross – the One who established the Church. I did that three times in one week.

I got the job offer the next week. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.

So maybe this church locks its doors after hours. I don’t know. But I am grateful that it is open for my use at least some of the time when I need it. I’m very glad that there is not a sign that says, “No Baptists Allowed!” I am most thankful that my God is willing to meet me there and listen to my pitiful attempt at conversation.

Thank you, Lord. I’ll see You again soon.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

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Michael McDonald
Mike is a software consultant who lives in Texas with Kathy, his wife of 44 years. He likes spending time with family and studying his two passions - baseball and religion.