I was asked to offer the prayer for my church community’s on-line service for this coming week (First Baptist Vernon) and I realized again what a privilege it is to pray with and for my faith community, as we also remember needs in our city and around the world.
Prayer is a gift we have – a gift of communication with our Creator with whom we can be honest and speak our heart. It is a language that binds all languages, and if you have ever heard prayer spoken in different languages all at the same time, it sounds like a taste of heaven.
Because we are promised that God will hear our prayers.
The prophet Jeremiah says this in 29:12-13; “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Sometimes we don’t know how to pray. When I sit with the suffering, in the ministry of hospital chaplaincy, we talk about prayer. Prayer can be an attitude of the heart, a turning toward God, toward the One who created us. It can be the simplest of words, as we breathe. I’ve learned to pray “O Lord have mercy” when I hear those ambulance sirens, or when there is an emergency code at the hospital. When there seems to be no easy answer I often pray “Lord, You know”, and that is enough. It is a prayer of trust.
Even our sighs can be prayers. I love this verse from Romans 8:26 where the Apostle Paul says this: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
In my faith tradition (Mennonite Brethren and Baptist), I grew up with spontaneous prayers with no script. I am grateful to talk to God, just as I would talk to a friend. I have also come to appreciate and love liturgical and written prayers, and have written some myself. Jesus himself prayed through the Psalms which is a wonderful prayer book for troubled times; for any time.
Prayer is powerful. There have been studies done where prayer in hospitals and for the sick has shown a marked difference compared to no prayer. Offering prayer in the work of chaplaincy is a sacred calling, but we are all called to pray. I know I am empowered to do my work because of those who pray for me, and I am thankful.
And so we pray. We can agree together as we pray. We can pray the Lord’s Prayer or a Psalm.
Today as I think of what is happening in our world, we lift up prayer for those who need a touch from God.
For those who are sick, or who are isolated because of Covid 19, Lord be near to them.
For those who are suffering because of financial crisis in these times, Lord meet their needs, we pray.
For those who are immune compromised, who face serious illness, chronic illness or mental health illness, Lord please bring comfort and healing.
For those who are grieving, we pray for your comfort.
For those who are essential workers in whatever field, we pray for strength, endurance and calm.
For our leaders, in our faith communities, our towns, provincially, federally, we pray for wisdom.
For those fighting fire, or rescuing those from disasters, we pray for your protection and care.
And we lift up our thanks. We are grateful for the gift of prayer, and for the gift of Your Presence among us.