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"There is no distance in prayer," says Minnie Davis, a Salt Lake woman and head of a unique endeavor to combine the efforts of many Utah Christ United Methodist Church members in the power of prayer.

Davis, 80, is chairwoman of the Methodist Church's prayer chain, a group of eight teams of church members who are prepared to join together in prayer to address the needs of others.Those needing prayer can call Davis, who then calls her team captains who in turn are responsible for calling their team members. When everyone is contacted, the prayer chain is formed and the group begins communicating with God.

Prayer chains usually sustain a prayer for some 15 minutes, Davis said. The group once was asked to pray for 15 minutes daily at 9:15 a.m. for three months - prayer chain members complied. "When anybody wants a prayer, there is no distance, there is no limit to love," Davis said.

The Salt Lake Christ United Methodist Church, 2375 E. 3300 South, organized their prayer chain some 20 years ago, according to Davis, who has been head of the effort for the past decade. "It's just about the first thing in my life," she said.

To Davis, the prayer chain is one of the last, but still significant, contributions that a woman of her age can make to her religion.

"When you're young, you can serve the Lord in many ways. But when you're my age, there's only one way," she said.

Davis says she and other prayer chain participants sometimes respond to five prayer requests daily.

Sometimes, "I drop everything," to respond to a request, Davis said. Always, activating the prayer chain means taking the time to sit at the phone to make countless calls.

"I think it is a real commitment, but I want to serve my Father, who gave me everything," she said.

Davis said there is a great deal of evidence to support the positive effect that the church's prayer team has had on those in need.

"The last thing we had on the prayer chain was my own son," Davis said.

He suffered serious injuries this summer in an automobile accident in Colorado and underwent treatment in a Denver hospital's intensive care unit for days. The prayer chain was activated and her son recovered immediately.

The prayer chain also took under it's wing a Methodist missionary injured in Liberia, who eventually was returned safely and in good health to a New York hospital.

"My prayers were answered and we have stories like that coming all the time from people we pray for," Davis said.

What's more, there is a certain spiritual strength in numbers affected by an active prayer chain, Davis said. "You get action, you begin to feel it," she said.

Davis grew up in southwestern Colorado. It was from that area that she and her husband, Duane, now 85, eloped. After living throughout the West, they landed in Salt Lake City.

Prayer has always been an important element of Davis' life. "Way back before I knew about God, I had someone I talked to for help," she said. She prays frequently - inside and outside a formal religious setting.

While the prayer chain has been active for two decades, Davis said the world needs more people willing to devote time and effort to a spiritual life.

"We do not have enough people working for Jesus Christ," she said.

Those interested in activating the prayer chain can call Davis at 467-8541. For information on Christ United Methodist Church, call 486-5473.