Monday, July 1, 2013
Pictures of Prayer
Prayer is conversation between God and me—we talk with each other. I come to him with my questions, my fears and wounds, my needs, my sins, and he answers me, instructs me, comforts me, provides for and forgives me. As my Heavenly Father wanting to spend time with his child, he wants me to come to him with everything. One way in which we hear his part of the conversation is by reading, meditating, and embracing what he tells us in his Holy Word. Ephesians 6:18a says to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” He’s telling us that he wants us coming to him and him alone with our fears, our needs, our everything, seeking his comfort, his blessings, his healing and his grace.
In Matthew 15 we are told the story of a Canaanite woman who sought Jesus out and pleaded with him to heal her daughter. He didn’t answer her – not a word. She continued and the disciples urged him to send her away. Again he puts her off but she does not budge. Her faith in him and his ability and compassion is evident, even more so as she expresses her complete undeserved-ness of his attention. Her desperate faith moves him to act with great compassion and the immediate healing of her daughter.
What a beautiful picture of personal prayer. We don’t deserve to be in God’s presence. He would be
Often we think of corporate prayer as a congregation reciting a pre-formed Prayer of Confession or Affirmation of Faith or the Lord’s Prayer together during worship. Perhaps your idea of corporate prayer is when everyone bows their heads while one person speaks prayer aloud and the whole group affirms it by all speaking aloud in unison “Amen” at the end. Yes, this is a picture of corporate prayer, much like a choir that sings an elaborate choral arrangement – each singer with his own distinct part which is a small piece of the larger arrangement. Only when all of the parts are combined is the music a complete and beautiful prayer.
Then there is the story in Mark 2. Jesus is teaching in a home with a crowd of people surrounding him inside and out. We are told that four friends carry a paralyzed man to this place so that the man might be healed by Jesus. When they saw they couldn’t get through the crowd to get their friend to Jesus, they carried him to the roof of the home and dug through it above the place where Jesus was teaching. These four devoted friends with their “won’t quit” attitude painstakingly lowered their broken friend to the floor at Jesus’ feet. Jesus healed this man because of his friends’ tenacious resolve to carry their friend into the holy presence of God – to put their friend within arm’s reach of the God of compassion, restoration and healing.
This is the picture of corporate prayer that holds great significance to me. When I share a prayer request or a prayer of joy with friends, family, and designated prayer warriors, it’s because I feel I need help in lifting the burden of the request to God or that more voices need to be shouting the Lord’s praises for the blessings and joy he has given. Ephesians 6:18b instructs “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” God is telling us to pray for and with each other. We have a responsibility to our fellow man to love him as God loves him. Sharing someone’s burden, bringing them into God’s presence through prayer, lifting them up in prayer is a great honor and bonds us together as only God’s Spirit can do in us. There are times when my faith is shaken, when my spirit is confused, and my mind seems to be working against me rather than for me and I need help—I need friends to bring me to the feet of Jesus for healing and restoration because I’m not going to get there on my own. I need prayer warriors who aren’t put off by the barriers that can sometimes block my path, but are fueled by those barriers and work harder towards the goal of my healing and renewal. This is the kind of pray-er I want to be for others and I believe God is calling and teaching me to be.
May God’s blessing be abundant in your practice of prayer - both personal and corporate.
Posted by Maureen Profeta