Friday, November 28, 2008

Being Different, Part II-- On our Knees

If there is one way to tell how sick the PC(USA) is, look at the exercise of the discipline of prayer. We pray because someone is going to check the minutes of the meeting much more often than we pray because we are moved to come together before Christ.
Prayer has always been foolishness to the world; it is doing nothing when one could be doing something. The fact that we whom Christ has called often view prayer similarly tells us just how close Cindy Rigby's description of the PC(USA) as "of the world, but not in it" truly is.
So let's get down to the nitty-gritty: what does it mean to be the change we seek? It means to truly become a people of prayer. Not five minutes before you get in bed prayer, or nodding to heaven while we read a list prayer, or the pretentious and affected prayers that pass for liturgy too often in the one hour a week we do what we are supposed to do our whole life long.
Prayer is a constant conversation with God; it is checking with God even the smallest details of our day. Prayer for the people of God is taking seriously the power of intercessory prayer, and becoming intercessors for the sick and those in need.
How many people in your congregation pray like that? How many have you taught to pray like that? How much of a model are you? Does your congregation have an active intercessory prayer list? If not, start one. Invite people into the ministry of prayer-- especially those who physically cannot give to Christ what they once had to give. Our best intercessor hasn't stood on her feet or spent much time out of the bed she lies in for 5 years. But she prays without ceasing. Prayer ministry can be taught in the home, through a family prayer circle every night. E-mail and the internet make prayer requests more reliably transmittable and accessible.
What is the first thing to do when confronting a problem? Form a committee? Organize our support/opposition? Where is that in the New Testament? First and last, it is always God. First and last, it is always Christ. First and last, it is always the Holy Spirit that will guide. Pastors who do not know the tears and sighs too deep for words in the private closet of prayer cannot lead because they cannot accurately follow Jesus Christ; where you are privately in your closet with Christ is where you will be publicly.
What would a praying congregation look like? I have a good view of one at OCPC. But what would a praying presbytery look like? I long for the day when we in the pastor's union in the PC(USA) really pray for one another. Both of you who follow this blog, I hope you know that I am always praying for you. I need your prayers, too.
Start being different-- learn to pray without ceasing.

No comments:

Post a Comment