Gratitude Day 487
Wed., July 15, 2020
Acts 20:36 – After he said these things, he knelt down with all of them to pray.
“Can I pray for you?”
The words may roll off of our tongues without even thinking about it. Or we respond to a social media post, “Praying” followed by praying hands memes. We send someone a sympathy card and assure the receiver that we will be praying for them.
Here’s the REAL question. After your promise someone to pray for them or type it in a comment or write it on a card, do you ACTUALLY do it?
Do you stop the scrolling, pause from writing, or go ahead and pray for the person while still on the call?
With limited community worship gathering happening these days, the sense of whether someone is actually praying for a situation is not as clearly defined. While we SAY we are, can we honestly say that we have prayed for every situation which we promised to do so?
When I became a pastor, my praying skills were, well, about a -10. Yes, I had prayed before meals, the Lord’s Prayer, and occasionally led a group of people in prayer. But I didn’t have the “perfect” phrases or style that would leave people weeping. I hadn’t read a book about prayer until after I became a pastor. And certainly, I would not be labeled as one of those prayer warriors that folks turn to because they seem to have a more direct telephone line to God.
Nope, I was none of those. Not in a long shot.
Yet, I believed in prayer. I knew it could bring comfort and peace into our lives. At least I wanted to believe it could. I wanted to assure people that God heard their prayers and might even answer some of them. I wanted folks to think God was A-MA-ZING and would know they were sincere and earnest in their prayer requests.
And then, real life ministry happened. People I barely knew assured me that prayer was a waste of time. They believed God had let them down way too many times. When I asked someone to lead prayer at a meeting, often folks realized their shoe needed typing or there was some speck of dirt on the floor that desperately needed attention.
To this day, I would classify my prayer life as moderate at best. I find myself praying short little prayers though out the day and am ashamed when I spend more time scrolling on my phone than seriously engaging God in a heart-to-heart discussion.
But this is real life.
Eventually, I became more comfortable with praying in worship or together with a group of folks. Why? Because I just did it. No special training. No life-changing experience when I suddenly “knew” how to pray. Nope, just speaking from my heart. Saying what’s on my mind. Trying not to get too fancy with catch phrases and simply let my heart speak more so than my mind.
Along the way, I discovered praying over the phone. In my early pastoring years, I also attended school several days a week. I tried to make the hospital visits and take communion to those unable to attend worship on a regular basis. I know I missed lots of those opportunities.
Sometimes, all I could do between reading multiple books a week and writing a paper on Luther’s position on justification was to pick up the phone and call. Before the end of the conversation, I would simply ask, “Can I pray for you?” Or sometimes, “May we pray together?”
The first time I prayed over the phone, internally, I wondered if this is how ministry is supposed to look. I was making up stuff as I went along and decided that asking for forgiveness sometimes seemed more appropriate than asking for permission. After those phone prayers, there would often be a pause. Maybe a sniffle or two. Then, the recognition that no one had ever prayed with them over the phone before.
We couldn’t see each other faces and see what response the other person was experiencing. Yet sometimes emotion does come through a phone line. In a text message. Or an e-mail.
With continued limited interactions, let’s embrace the power of praying for someone. We can do it during our quiet time or when we think of someone. We can even type a text prayer or send an e-mail. But I also pray we pick up the dang phone, call the person who we have been thinking about, chat with them … and then pray aloud with them on the phone before we end the conversion.
Seriously. It doesn’t have to take more than 30 seconds to pray. If we just make it a priority.
Saying we are going to pray for someone … and actually praying WITH someone are two different animals. One is passive and nice. The other? Potentially personal and something that can reach down into your heart and cause your throat to close up and your nose to get just a bit sniffly. Sometimes, the risk is worth it.
For finding prayer’s power, I am grateful.
Almighty God – may we see prayer as a great opportunity to engage your power and might. I pray we will make time to contact someone when we think of them and pray with them today. Amen.
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