matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, August 21, 2014
Mention Friends in Prayer?
Periodically, I get comments from random people about prayer. Yes, there are the scoffers who deny the existence of any kind of a Supreme Being. But right now, I’m thinking about people who have lots of different ideas on how prayer actually works.
The last thing in the world that I want to do is to set myself up as a maven of all things prayer-related. Heavens, no! However, I do know some elementary things about prayer and meditation. I try to communicate with God regularly. I try to mention my family in prayer, especially my children. I try to remember my congregation, my friends. And, I try to mention those who people ask me to remember in prayer.
Sometimes, certain people seem to think that God is a vending machine in the sky. They put in their order, or they choose from the selection they see on offer, and they expect God to deliver. On demand. At a time of their choosing. (This is especially problematic when it comes to praying for the outcome of sporting events . . . ) Yes, I have prayed for games and competitions, but I usually pray for each person involved. I ask God to help each one do the very best that they can, and I also pray for clean competition—no fouls or mean-spirited nonsense! (That goes for the fans, too.)
But what about praying for those in poor health? Or for those who are even seriously ill? I am reminded of the U.S. doctor who contracted the Ebola virus some days ago. Today he is being released from the hospital. He worked for a mission agency, and I am sure countless thousands of people were praying for him and his family. I am sure God was concerned about him and his family, just as God is concerned for each and every person around the world who has a serious, life-threatening disease.
I know each person goes through life. Accidents happen. Jobs are lost, companies move, sudden events occur. And I know joy comes into people’s lives: children are born, people graduate from school, weddings are celebrated, people buy houses or businesses or other properties. In other words, life continues to happen. The business of living goes on, in countless lives all over the world.
I want to stress—God is with each of us, amidst the little things. In the center of the darkest night, in the middle of the most joyous event, God is right there, next to each of us. The Apostle Paul comments on this at the beginning of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. He made mention of his fellow believers in prayer. Not only the nearby believers, and not only those in Thessalonica, but also those who were scattered, and far away. In Paul’s time, there were no antibiotics. Few doctors. And many more accidents and mishaps. He knew what dangers were out there. Paul wanted to stress the fellowship we could have with each other—in prayer. Near or far, in encouragement and support.
Remember that old advertising slogan from Ma Bell? “Reach out and touch someone.” That is what prayer can do. That is what prayer can be for each other, whether near or far.
Let’s pray. God, we thank You for the example of our brother Paul. He said in 1 Thessalonians 1 that he made regular mention of the believers in his prayers. Help us to reach out to support others, care for them, and journey with them in prayer. For a little while, at least. Thank You for Your presence with us, through the good times, the stressful times, the scary times, and the sorrowful times. Help us to follow You more nearly, and to pray more faithfully. We pray in Your grace and mercy, amen.
(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: