So I finally did it- I went & bought a prayer kneeler last month. If you've ever looked into such a thing, you know it can be a pricey venture. It has many different names: prayer kneeler, prayer desk, prayer bench, Prie Dieu, etc. Unless you find an old one that's beat to heck or have the know how to DIY, a realistic starting price can be anywhere from $75 to hundreds of dollars. It all depends on if it's old or new, if it's fixed or it folds, if you want cloth or upholstered padding, if you want a flat top or a slant top. It can come with a shelf or no shelf, be any kind of wood, varnish, or have a symbol (like a cross or a chi rho) carved into it. The more you want, the more you pay.
Now why on earth would anyone want to spend money on such a thing when you can just kneel at your bed or by a chair? Granted, I personally wouldn't be able to justify spending $100 or more for a new kneeler, let alone a used one. Unless it's going in a church for the use of many, it seems like an unnecessary cost for personal use. I happened to be looking online & spotted someone selling theirs for $40. The curse of someone else's illness became my blessing.
I know it doesn't make me any more holy than the guy who kneels by his bed or the gal who prays in her car on her lunch break. It's simply a tool to assist in prayer. Unfortunately, it tends to be an expensive one only precious few can afford. When you think about it, cost alone seems to pit the idea of the prayer kneeler against everything Jesus taught us about simplicity & a spirit of poverty. Does that make it "right or wrong" to have one? I don't know. I've spent more to go on church retreats & conferences in the past... was that right or wrong? Sometimes I find the logic difficult to reconcile.
I do know that the palette of distraction I would normally encounter while praying in a chair or at my bedside is significantly diminished when my knees hit the pad. The kneeler lives directly behind my bedroom door & practically calls me to prayer before I leave in the morning & before I go to bed at night. C.B. Chamber's Jesus & Mary & a small resin crucifix provide limited focal points. I keep my Mass readings, a prayer book & Liturgy of the Hours on the shelf. A rosary rests in a tiny terra cotta planter dish on top. I don't read/pray with any one book every day & I'm never there for very long. Sometimes I just end up kneeling in silence, but I always walk away having had a sense of connection... kind of like when someone you know catches your eye & smiles at you from across a crowded room.