What a blessing it is to share with others in prayer. I hope you had a chance to participate in the prayer wall provided by the Executive Committee. You may have seen it in the foyer entry to the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. Everyone was invited to write down whatever prayer they wished onto a ribbon and then tie the ribbon to the trellis. You may have participated by writing one or more prayers, reading and praying over the prayers of others or by being reminded of your own prayers as you noticed the prayer wall and intertwined ribbons.
The ability to pray directly to God is one of the greatest gifts given to the church. Prayer changes things and makes a huge difference in the world we live in. Almost everyone prays in some form or another. Prayer can be a simple sigh upon hearing good news or seeing something beautiful and awe inspiring. It can also be a simple “help” when startled or scared. When we pray, things are changed. When we pray in response to what God has done and is doing in our lives through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it becomes Christian prayer. We are praying in the name of Jesus.
I read somewhere, “Be careful what you think for our thoughts become our words. Be careful what you say because our words have a way of becoming our actions. Be careful what you do because actions become habits and habits show our character.” Prayer is the very root of our character. When our prayers are grounded in our thankfulness to God, our character will soon follow and as the song says, “They will know we are Christians by our Love.”
As you saw from the many prayers joined together on the trellis, prayer does not need to be complex. It can be as simple as talking to a good friend. It can be a few words or a lengthy conversation. Some find it easier to talk to a living person and may have a spiritual advisor to help them in their prayers and offer suggestions on how to keep their prayers centered in their relationship with God. Others may have a deceased relative who was a spiritual mentor for them and by remembering that person’s teaching and support, they are helped to stay focused when they pray. Still others may have studied a past saint or other church leader and find their experiences help them pray “in the name of Jesus”. I don’t think God is as concerned about the style of prayer as some people seem to be. All our prayers in the name of Jesus have merit and value in shaping and forming our Christian character.
Prayer can be an individual or private conversation with God. We may be reluctant to pray out loud or share our thoughts, concerns and joys in a way where others might know our prayers. Corporate prayer, however, not only has a power to shape and form us but helps to bring the body of Christ, the church, together. In much the same way the ribbons on the trellis come together to form a type of tapestry, corporate prayer weaves the individual members of Christ’s body into a living and viable creation greater than the sum of all the parts. Another benefit of corporate prayer is that when we come together and let someone else guide our prayers, we are encouraged to travel new roads, dream new dreams and have new visions. When we join our prayers with the prayers of others, we invite them to be part of our faith journey and willingly share some of the blessings we have known.
As you join your prayers to those who journey with you, I trust they will fall on fertile ground, flourish and bear much fruit. May God continue to join you in your prayers through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as we are intertwined in our prayers offered in the name of Jesus Christ.
See you Sunday,