Also as part of our church's 2015 theme I have been interceding in prayer for our church once a month for my entire work day. I spend about 8 hours in prayer once a month for the University Church of Christ. It has been a privilege to pray to God for the requests of my members. Some of these requests bring me to tears as I utter them to the Father. Some I completely understand because I've been there too. Some I have no knowledge about and am not quite sure how to bring to the Father, except to use their words that they email to me. I have also been praying over our directory. While I know most in the directory, there a few households I know only by name or mere acquaintance.
As I think about prayer today and reflect on my prayers these last few months, I have five thoughts I want to share.
1. Prayer should always be my first language: I have spent in my lifetime more energy, words, and posture in the things of this world than I have in prayer. When I put all distractions away and come to God in prayer it can feel somewhat foreign to me. I sometimes use prayer as a last resort rather than my first phone call. And if prayer is my FIRST language then my prayers to God should not only be the big things that I cannot handle, but all the things that come into my life. It is conversation with my God!
2. Words can seem empty: When you are praying over the health of a physical body or when calling on God to bring back a spiritual prodigal the words to describe those situations and the verbal requests seem to be empty and fall flat. Flowery language does not tickle the ear of our God enough to move Him into action. It is our hearts! Therefore we might need to spend more time searching our hearts and praying through quiet reflection than using every molecule of space with big fat, $2 words that sound pretty but have no more power than a stuttering utterance of nonsense.
3. Time is friend and foe: While prayer does not have to be a set aside time and space in order for God to hear, we have pushed our time with God to the margins of our day planners. Time is our friend when we use the time we spend with God in prayer to shape every minute of our day. Just because we need to make that sales meeting and don't have time to pray from 8am to 5pm doesn't mean that everything we do during that time cannot be shaped by the giving of our heart to God. Time is our foe when God is pushed to the 25th hour. Like so many projects we can quickly put God on tomorrow's todo list. While we may have a sincere desire to get to God, we should allow God to get to us and consume us and our time.
4. Posture means something: I have an injured back. It hurts most days. So I appreciate different postures that can help relieve the pain. It isn't easy for me to lie prostrate or be on my knees in prayer. However, there are times when a posture that is uncomfortable pushes me to God more fervently than any other. There are times when we need to stand in prayer, sit in prayer, lift our hands in prayer, bow our heads, kneel, or lie down. These postures, however, need to mean something. Allow your prayer time to include different postures so that your prayer will be a total body experience.
5. Praying for the unknown is worth the challenge: When I'm praying through our church directory I may or may not know what that particular family or individual is going through. I don't try to make up issues for them to pray about, but when I'm done with those prayers I feel the sense that I don't have to know everything that God does, for god to hear my heart and act in a loving and caring way. It also challenges me to continue to do life with my church so that when I pray for them I have things that I can pray. It is a challenge not to know what someone is going through or may need, but this is where we know that it is not our words, posture, time, or intercession that changes people or circumstances. It is the Lord! It always has been and always will be.
Take time today to pray and keep your focus not on the the words you want to say or even the people you intercede for, but on the God that chooses to listen and love.