Encouraging Prayer

Prayer_2
It was a Monday morning and I was in conversation with another minister.  He asked me how Sunday went.  I knew what he meant.  How was the Sunday morning assembly?  My answer, "It was a good day but I wasn’t pleased with my sermon."  It is hard to put it into words, but I just didn’t feel good about it.  You never know about a Sunday.  One really has to depend upon God.  I might invest much study and prayer in a message and then Sunday morning, while I am preaching, the room feels like an oven (so much for air conditioning).  Or, I might preach a message that I think to be critical to a series of messages and the battery goes dead in the microphone.  Very, very frustrating.

 

But let me tell you what I saw recently that was so encouraging.

After I preach, we set aside a time for prayer.  Historically in our church as in some other churches as well, this is the "invitation."  But I like what we have been doing with this.  Our elders and spouses sit on the front rows.  Other elders/spouses stand at the back.  It is a time where people go to them and pray with them during the song.  No names announced.  No statements.  No cards read.  Just a time of quiet prayer.  In recent weeks:

 

  • An older couple prayed with an elder and his spouse about health difficulties.
  • One family prayed with a couple of elders regarding a divorce situation.
  • A single man prayed with a couple regarding his need for a job.

I also feel good about a practice that has become an important tradition to many in our church family.  On a Sunday morning, a person might come down to our front seats asking that the entire church pray on his or her behalf.  Last week it was regarding a woman who recently learned she had cancer.  A few weeks before that it was for a couple whose marriage was in serious trouble and desired the church to pray.  At such times, just before we pray, people from our church will gather around these people.  Some will sit beside them.  Others will sit or kneel on the floor.  They all will "lay hands" on them.  Each person might rest a hand on that person while someone is praying aloud.

What a sight to see 20-35 people joining these people who have asked for prayer.  Some are long time friends.  Some hardly know them.  Most just want to support and encourage and simply be "with" that person at such a difficult time.  For several years, it has been rare to see a person request prayer when she has not been surrounded by a number of people.

So–I’ve been preparing this message from John 9 all week.  I’ve prayed over this message.  I trust that God will be at work.  But regardless, I’m just glad we are praying.  And–I know God is at work, regardless of how he chooses to work.

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8 thoughts on “Encouraging Prayer

  1. It is weird to hear you say that you weren’t pleased with your sermon last Sunday. I wasn’t there as I was home with a sick child, but my Mom, Aunt, and husband all remarked at different times Sunday how “on” that sermon was. Not only was it appropriate after the tornadoes of the last two weeks to talk about fear..but it is something we all deal with. We have had to face some fears lately and your sermon spoke to my family right where we are. I think it goes to show that we never know what God will do with our words. He “works” even when we think our words don’t.

  2. SG–I was refering to another Sunday (about a month ago). I didn’t have last Sunday in in mind when I wrote that post. Thanks anyway for your words of encouragement. So glad your family was encouraged last Sunday.

  3. I remember a time at your church, years ago now when my family and I were coming down front (traditional old school time) to place membership.
    Previously my life was a real mess,I had reached a point in my life where doing things my way wasn’t cutting it anymore, and I was very tired of living in the consequences. You know the story, I was broken. Well I had been away from the Lord for so long I was now willing to depend on him and I told him so. He led me and family in tow to your church,my parents church, where I remember feeling out of place. I would see everyone talking after class and enjoying one another so much and here I am standing over here holding up the wall. But the spirit kept bringing me back. Man I would just be soaking up the word and enjoying worship in song and prayer,but I would catch myself holding up the wall afterwords and asking myself, man what are you doing here. On the suday we placed membership I will never forget, this was a big deal for me, I wasn’t just placing membership I was recomitting my life to the Lord. Anyways afterwords when everyone is welcoming you and introducing themselves, I will never forget a women named Sandy says “we have been praying for you for years”. I could not speak from the emotions and relization at that moment how I had been continually led back to church and the Lord thru prayer. It’s great to hear how yall are finding more ways to pray for one another.Blessings!

  4. I like that custom. Similar to what we do at Long Beach. We have people submit prayer requests in the offering plate and at the conclusion of my sermon, one of our shepherds will come to the front and pray over each request.

    Of course, some people choose to leave, but those of us who stay, it is truly a highlight of the morning together.

  5. Thanks Jeff,

    What a wonderful and encouraging post. You help me realize there are people around me who are probably “holding up the wall” who very much feel they are on the outside looking in.”

    I especially like the last story in your comment regarding your coming back to the Lord as a result of prayer. Very encouraging.