I Need A Word With God
I must confess, talking to God is one of the most difficult disciplines. Conversations with people, who I can see, touch, and hear are draining enough. I wouldn't say I am ADD, but when I am talking with someone every other conversation in the room seems more interesting, no matter who I am with. I get distracted easily and focusing takes a lot of emotional energy.
Now try carrying on a discussion with someone who is a silent listener. Every noise, every movement, and every thought becomes so pronounced that I'm lucky to stay on task for ten minutes. Add to that a lopsided conversation with a mysterious, spiritual component and its a wonder I don't break down and give up.
Yet, prayer is essential to a healthy relationship with God, and a crucial community practice within the church. Speaking to the Ephesians, Paul admonishes them to pray always, for everything, for everyone, and especially him. I think it is important to note that he is talking to the church body in the context of unity. Their prayers are crucial for maintaining unity because it binds them together in an intimate community activity that is not self centered.
Too often prayers are left to the leaders or professionals in the church. Congregants don't like to pray out loud because they feel uncomfortable or inadequate. They don't know the right words and are afraid of sounding stupid. Quick prayers at the end of bible studies don't build the type of community and effectual prayer that Paul is talking about. Allowing everyone, and expecting everyone to pray connects us in ways that other conversations can't. Praying for one another is an act of service that gives everyone an opportunity to participate in the lives of others by insisting God's help for them.
A good bible study is where everyone in the group engages the word of God and freely discusses what it means and how it applies. Just listening to a teacher can be informative but is less transformative. Likewise, prayer is a participatory activity. Within the context of the church believers who are actively involved in praying receive a blessing and are a blessing that passive praying doesn't achieve.
Obviously in a large church setting that isn't feasible, but in small gatherings, where two or more are gathered make sure you allow time for people to pray for one another, always, for all things, and especially the advancement of the gospel.
Praying this way has at least four outcomes:
- It gives a unified purpose to the group when you pray for the spread of the gospel.
- It helps believers perfect the discipline of prayer.
- It gives an avenue of service that is other focused.
- It binds the participants together in an intimate activity.
Practice this discipline at home and then when you gather, join the chorus of voices that are lifted before the throne of God. I'm just saying.
Ephesians 6:18-20 "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak."