As we gathered together last night at ForestView for our opening night of Week of Prayer, we were presented with much to pray about. Looking at the double-sided handout was a reminder that as a church, we are a fairly large body with lots of hands and feet, eyes and ears!
These various body parts represent a lot of people serving in various capacities; some making big decisions that only come once every decade or two, others making small, daily commitments to mission and ministry. As I think about my own response to this page of requests and the way I engaged in prayer, I realize a couple of things. First, the items of prayer that grabbed my attention were ones with which I have a personal connection – I know that person well, or that ministry area holds my heart. And so, through that deep connection, I prayed.
Second, other items that grabbed my attention were those that drew me deeper into the Body of Christ – when I pray for this person, or that situation, I feel that I am participating with others, praying toward a shared end. And so, through that sense of being part of a Body, I prayed.
Through a post prayer conversation, I found that I was not alone in this second observation. Meeting up with some friends afterwards, one of them shared the encouragement he felt as people were praying together over one of the big decisions that lay before us, noting that the prayers were very personal. His observation was that as people prayed for ForestView, they used inclusive language – may we as a church have wisdom and discernment. This meant a lot considering that friend is someone who is working closely on one of the decision to be made. For him, it was nice for him to see us acting as body – participating with others, toward a shared end.
Thinking on these things, my twofold encouragement for myself, and for you, as we continue on in the week of prayer is this. First, let’s allow ourselves to be drawn deeply into prayer for the people and the areas that we hold closely. God has given these deep connections to you and I to hold, so pray.
Second, as we pray let’s pray as a body. Most of the time you spend in prayer this week will be on your own, but keep in mind that you are not alone. Maybe look at where you are on the 24 hour calendar and imagine a relay race. For me, I’ll be receiving the baton of prayer from you, Janice, on Thursday morning, and passing it on an hour later to you, Tony! Even as I write, Elizabeth is praying, having received the baton from Carolyn, preparing to pass it onto Angie. And the prayers will continue as the baton is passed, one hand to another!