The Empty Chair


A lady asked the local preacher to come and pray with her father. When the preacher arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed. The preacher assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?” said the father.

The preacher told him his name and then remarked, “I see the empty chair; I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the preacher shut the door.

“I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At the prayer hall, during the spiritual discourses, I used to hear the preacher talk about prayer, but it went right over my head.

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer, until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with God. Here is what I suggest: sit down in a chair and place an empty chair in front of you. In faith see God, in whatever form you can visualize Him or are comfortable with, on that chair. It’s not spooky because it is his promise: ‘I’ll be with you always’. Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.

“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I actually enjoy these sessions with him. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”


The preacher was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him and left.


Two nights later the daughter called to tell the preacher that her father had died that afternoon.

“Did he die in peace” he asked.

“Yes, when I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before father died, he leaned over and rested his head in the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”


The preacher wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”


Prayer is very powerful provided we have total shraddha (faith plus the element of complete surrender) in Him. It is one of the best protective shield we have at our disposal. 


I asked God for water.

He gave me a river.

I asked god for a flower.

He gave me a garden.

I asked God for a friend.

He gave me all the beings.


If God brings us to it, He will take us through it.


Happy moments, praise God.

Difficult moments, seek God.

Quiet moments, worship God.

Painful moments, trust God.

Every moment, thank God.


Adopting empty chair philosophy might make us happier and give us the strength to face all the difficulties and challenges of life.

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2 thoughts on “The Empty Chair

  1. Chintu

    Faith in God with Shraddha can make our life much easier and more meaningful.Pain and problems in life, then pale into insignifance – is the message we receive from this wonderful post.

  2. Niyati Pimprikar

    The empty chair is a touching story for each one of us on the spiritual path. Am grateful to you Swamiji , for all the posts. Pranam.

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