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Church's prayer service doesn't require you to even leave your car

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What if you could have someone pray for you as you run your holiday errands? What if it were as easy as ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant? One local church plans to offer drive through prayer this holiday season, and all you need to do to receive the blessing is pull up in your car.

"Our first drive-through prayer was held during our Hands & Hearts at Home, which is a localized mission week," said Laura White, youth minister at Florence Baptist Church. "Our pastor asked us to think outside the box, and it was actually our head custodian who said he wanted to see something offered at the church."

As church members began to think about what they could do, the idea of having a drive-through prayer came to one on "a whim."

"I started thinking about how we are all so busy, and sometimes have every excuse in the book not to go to church," said Maria Davis. "We live in the Bible Belt, and I believe most people in our area are probably Christians or at least have had some experience or exposure to God. Even knowing that, we are sometimes reluctant to ask for prayers from people. But if someone offers prayer, we usually take it."

She brought the idea to White, who enlisted the help of other members and the church's youth to provide the drive through prayer.

With signs to direct people, the drive through prayer allowed people to pull up in their cars. A member of the church then offered to pray with the person.

"It was truly a pull in event - you didn't have to get out of your car," White said.

Soon, youth began to offer to pray with people at the stop sign beside the church. A few people seemed surprised, and a few at first turned down the offer but then returned to take part.

"I had one couple thank me, and express how much it touched them," she said.

The event blessed those who took part so much, that they decided it was something they wanted to offer again.

"I have never seen young people so eager to go up to a stranger and pray with them," Davis said. "I think my blessing actually came from watching these girls be willing to talk to strangers about God."

The holidays seemed like an ideal time to offer drive through prayer again, both agreed.

"The holidays are tough for a lot of people," Davis said. "When people look around and see the hustle and bustle of the holidays and see people happy and waiting on family and spending time with family, it can bring on an even deeper feeling of disheartenment. To have someone - anyone - but especially a stranger want to pray for you ... to know that someone cares, a physical person and that God is there for them can mean all the difference."

The drive-through prayer also allows the church to truly be the church in the community, White said.

"We want to be seen as the church who helps, not just the big church on the corner," she said.

Florence Baptist Church's next drive-through prayer will be offered Saturday, Dec. 19, from 10 a.m. to noon in the church parking lot.

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