I’ve just been writing my monthly prayer diary, which is sent to a group of people who have offered to pray for me and the Ministry to which God has called me. As I was about to send it out I remembered that my Grandparents told me that they used to pray for me every day. I didn’t doubt it for one moment.
Of course I am certain that they also prayed daily for their children, their other grandchildren, and quite a lot of other people and situations around the world. That was one of their qualities and gifts to others. And whilst I do know that many other people were praying for me, it was one of the things I felt I had lost when they died and joined the great crowd of witnesses cheering on from the galleries of heaven.
So now, knowing that there are others who have promised to pray for me daily, I realise I have not lost that spiritual support and encouragement of others, it’s just been passed on to others. I try to offer the same support to others too.
Yesterday morning I was preaching from Mark 2, the righteous vandals who ripped open a roof to lower their paraplegic friend in front of Jesus. Among the many things that are significant in that passage, as I was speaking it struck me afresh how Jesus acted “When he saw their faith.” Not the faith of the man on the mattress in front of him, but the faith of the four friends peering anxiously through the hole they had made in the roof. It reminded me of how we bring other people into the presence of Jesus in prayer and in faith, and God acts in response to that faith.
So, if you have ever prayed for me, thank you for your faith. If you pray for other people. Thank you for your faith. If you are in need of prayer, and know that others are praying for you, be encouraged that God acts in response to the faith of those who bring people into his presence.
And how much faith do you need? Just enough to pray – God does the rest!
First of all let me apologise for the more-intermittent-than-usual nature of my blog posts recently. That is down to me not having enough time near my computer to communicate some of the random thoughts that bounce around my brain through my fingers, via the keyboard, onto the blog. That may not improve over the next few days due to rehearsals for the magic show on Saturday (see previous bloggages) but hopefully next week…
In the meantime, here’s a continuation of a train of thought that I have occasionally followed here. I find that when I am closer to God prayer becomes more natural. And when prayer is more natural I feel even closer to God. (The opposite is also true). I also find that when I am closer to God different things prompt my praying.
For example, now I have a regional role I am driving a lot around the lovely county of Essex (8000 miles in the last 5 months!). When I see a road sign for somewhere where there is a Baptist church I try to offer a quick prayer for them. When I was driving through torrential rain recently I reflected that I would have been drenched had I not been in my car and then thought that it would be wonderful to be drenched again by God’s Spirit. Phone calls and emails from people can also prompt prayers for them. If I see an ambulance I can pray for those I know who are sick (and if the blue lights are on, for the people in the ambulance (paramedics and patients). And so on.
In other words, I am trying to use my circumstances and experiences as prompts for my praying. Prayer should not be confined to church, as if it needed to be protected from contamination. It is not only for special moments when we have God’s attention and he has ours. Prayer, at its best, is an ongoing conversation with God – chatting to him through the day. And as we chat we find that he also speaks – for example when I see a road sign for somewhere where there is a Baptist church I hear him remind me that ‘church’ is his Plan A for letting the world know about him, and he doesn’t have a Plan B. When I was driving through torrential rain recently I heard him say that he wanted to drench me too. He speaks to me through phone calls and emails from people. If I see an ambulance he might speak to me of the needs of others and also how he cares for each person on the planet. And so on.
For me it takes the pressure off my praying and also helps me shed the evangelical guilt that comes from limiting God to a ‘quiet time’.
I am not disparaging public prayers in church, they are important. I am not saying that it is not a good idea to set aside special times to pray. But I will go so far as to say that God would prefer to chat with us than to be restricted to specific moments. What do you think?