This week, I attended a prayer meeting for a sick child at my son's school. While I did not plan the meeting, I had the unexpected honor of leading it. I proposed doing a prayer circle for the child, which I led. The women gathered were open to the idea, but admitted that they were intimidated to pray.
I explained that prayer is simply talking with God. Each of us often see the same situation a bit differently, and therefore, each prayer is different and valuable. Whether we utter a long supplication or just a few words, the Holy Spirit can inform what we say and work on our behalf. Our gathering alone ushers in Christ's presence (Matthew 18:20).
In these instances, it's easy to think that prayer is simply a means to petition God. Yes, we are asking for healing. But the mom who initiated the group was quick to frame our meeting—we cannot promise any particular outcome from our prayer.
It's true. This side of heaven, creation is broken. Even though there is sin, disorder, and death, however, we worship a good God who has numbered the hairs on our head and desires our wholeness. When we stand upon his promises, I have seen God act. He healed my aunt and grandmother from critical conditions, for instance, when prayer was the only thing they had going for them.
Therefore, while prayer is indeed a petition, it's also a therapeutic release. It's the act of placing our requests before the throne of God and leaving them there, trusting that he's got it, come what may. This is enormously helpful because our worries are often multi-layered in tragic situations. While we cannot swing the balance in every aspect of another person's life, God can, as he holds everything together. This allows our yoke to be light and for God to care for us as we're seeking his blessing for another.
As the women went around the room during our prayer circle, there were tears and surprises. One mom, for instance, confessed that she did not pray often, but she said the most beautiful, heart-felt prayer. I explained that my tears were a sign that I felt the power of the Spirit. From the comments afterward, it was clear that everyone who had gathered felt like they had been a part of something bigger than themselves.
This makes me wonder...
What prayer is on the tip of your tongue for another?
Are you willing to be used by God exactly where you find yourself too?
The Pew Research study released this week contained another alarming church statistic. About "28% of US adults are religiously unaffiliated, describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or 'nothing in particular' when asked about their religion." This group of people has historically been referred to as the "nones." Of note, however, is that the majority of the nones were raised in a religion, usually Christianity. Further, about half say that spirituality is very important to their lives.
This means the situations we find ourselves in are fertile soil for the people of God. Christ himself encouraged us to not hide our light under a bushel basket (Matthew 5:15)—and it's more important now than ever. You might be the lifeline that someone needs to draw them back into church or plant seeds of faith in their family.
Prayer is one way you can impact your community, right here, right now. A friend of mine admitted that she had been scared to pray during the circle, but took comfort that the Holy Spirit would give her the words. Maybe that's it. We both had to move out of the way to let God move in and take over. Both as a leader and participant, respectively, we had to be willing to be a vessel "at such a time as this."
I have no doubt God wants the same from you. I encourage you to pray about opportunities in which God can use you. Don't be afraid to step out when they come, and don't be surprised when it's unexpected.
Thank you to my friend Autumn for sending along the Pew study! I love getting articles, especially from fellow prayer warriors.