How often do you pray? How do you pray? When do you pray? Is there a right way to pray? Is prayer important to Christian life?
And the truth is each of us will have different answers and responses to these questions surrounding prayer. For that very reason, I must admit that I'm fascinated with how many of us approach prayer.
We, as followers of God, know prayer is good. We know prayer is necessary. We, know prayer connects us to others and to God.
Yet, if we are completely truthful with ourselves, many of us don't do it. People often tell me, "I don't have time to pray." I often find myself justifying and saying the exact same thing. The more I reflect upon this often-held thought, the more I am concerned about how we, as people of God, approach prayer. I think many of us honestly believe and have bought into this myth that we don't have time to pray.
Prayer has become something only the pastor does. Prayer has become just an activity one does on Sunday mornings and within the confines of Church walls. It's somehow been reduced to a nicety we say to people when a loved one dies or is sick
But, prayer is meant and needs to be reclaimed as a part of the very fabric of our Christian lives. Truthfully, prayer is something God wants all of us to participate in. Prayer changes us. It changes us to see outside ourselves. It changes us to look for God in our midst and in others. Prayer is communicating with God but also entails listening for God in our lives.
Thus, prayer is not just something the experts (pastors) do. It's something we all do as disciples and members of the Body of Christ. Just as prayers aren't constricted to any particular person or profession, prayers also aren't constricted to any particular day of the week.
Paul said it best when he urged Christians to "rejoice always and pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). That's what prayer is about. It's a way to connect with God. It's a way to give thanks. It's a way to realize we aren't alone on an island dealing with life's struggles. Instead, God is a part of whatever we are going through. So then, prayer is something we are doing all the time. As Christians, we pray without ceasing.
On Sunday morning, we model this in the prayers of the people. Every Sunday, we pray for the Church and for God to guide us to discern how we can join in His redeeming work. We pray for Creation and that we can be good stewards of all God has bestowed upon us. We pray for our world and that leaders can come together to work for the common good. We pray for the sick and hurting within our midst that God would bring healing. And we pray for the dying and that the grieving families cling to the promise of resurrection.
We pray and praise God when things are good. At the same time, we pray when things are terrible. We pray knowing God is in both the good things and also working to bring justice, love, and healing in the bad things. This sense and approach to prayer is something I hope we move beyond Sundays and something ALL of us bring into our daily lives.
As people and as a church, I hope that prayer becomes who we are. That prayer becomes what we do.
Not sometimes. Not when we have time. But, we pray without ceasing!
Thank you for all you do in the name of our Risen Lord, Jesus!