Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Inviting God into Community

I ran across a post today about prayer on the blog Palabras de Deb. She wrote about the power of praying together.

Read this quote (emphasis mine):

Developing relationships with fellow pray-ers should create a safe space to cry, to laugh, to lament, to grieve, and to celebrate. It is a beautiful and holy thing to listen with focus and care. Listening and caring are essential in our relationships with one another. And while sometimes we regard them as one in the same, listening and prayer are distinctive, and being able to pray with someone, or have someone pray with you, offers something wholly different than simply listening. A prayer connection is different because it intentionally brings God into your relationship. It reminds you that God is the ultimate provider, that we are dependent on God, and that we must remain connected to the divine in all we do.

For two years now, I worked with a team of friends on a 40 Hour Prayer Vigil in our church. For two years now (and in the intervening time between vigils), I've been surprised how unwilling our congregation is to share prayer concerns. We ask the members to submit them, but they rarely, if ever do. In contrast, our Common Grounds congregation is very willing, each week, to submit prayer requests.

I wonder why that is. I wonder why one group of people, some of whom have known each other for over 50 years, are not willing to share prayer concerns publicly, while another group, many of whom are strangers, meeting each other for the first time, will pour out their hearts in prayer concerns.

I have friends who pray for me, and who invite me to pray for them. It is an indescribable gifts. And I agree with Deb's theory -- having a prayer connection intentionally brings God into your relationship. I think that's why I so much want our congregation to start praying for each other.

When I teach about prayer, I teach that it is a way to develop a relationship with God. I don't think I ever thought about it as a way to invite God into our community, but of course it is.

I just wish sometimes that we were more willing to issue the invitation.

Images: Sunset this evening. Our crabapple tree about to bloom.



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