Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Greater communication…

Did your childhood include regular bedtime prayer? Mine did. Sometimes, it was informal, improvisational. Other times, we recited the famous- “Now I lay me down to sleep…” I remember it well. One line goes, “If I die before I wake,” which occasionally produced nightmares, but that’s another letter. The point is, I’m grateful my parents taught me to consider prayer an everyday pursuit. Be it at the dinner table or just before bed, this rhythm of steadily seeking an audience with God helped me learn important ideas about how faith works well.

For starters, I learned that what I said mattered less than how I said it. Eloquent prayer is no substitute for sincerity; brilliant phrasing holds no candle to humble consistency. Adults should pay more attention to their words choices than kids, but only just so. We live such busy lives, and when we’re not busy, we’re distracted. TVs that never get turned off. Web browsers always open. Memories or anxieties crowding our consciousness about families and bills, unmet responsibilities. To never interrupt that soul-stifling, spiritually-deadening torrent of constant activity, invites emotional burnout, meanness, diminished relationships. However you pray, just pray. It matters.

I know from personal experience. My first Easter in seminary, a friend invited me to his family’s dinner. I couldn’t get home for the holiday, so I accepted and naturally, they invited the seminarian to bless the meal. It had been months, I’ll confess, since I’d spoken to God beyond church. And boy, did it show. The least elegant prayer I’ve ever said in public sputtered from my mouth. Everyone cringed. But more concerning than the prayer’s awkward phrasing was the gap I felt in my soul where I knew I’d been missing something- the consistency of asking for help, an intimacy with God’s ever-ready love. I may be no prayer champion now, but I try hard not to skip as much as I’d done then!

I don’t know what your prayer life is like, but I hope one exists beyond what you do in church. May you know that God is eager to hear from you, speak with you, abide with you. And because I believe we church folk should help each other build and maintain that blessed rhythm of life, we’ve decided to expand on certain prayer efforts we’ve already been offering.

You may know that we invite prayers from worshippers each Sunday, and the following Sunday, they’re listed in the bulletin. Some of you, surely, include those in your regular prayers, and for that, thanks! But we’d like to expand that list to include concerns that may be more ongoing than, say, an upcoming surgery. Chronic pain, for instance, unemployment…you get the idea. Plus, there’s not currently an easy-to-activate mechanism for time-sensitive, critical prayer concerns. So after recent conversation with Lyle and Bonnie, we’ve identified ways to upgrade the system.

For starters, we’re now going to keep and distribute a regular prayer list that anyone can add names to for whatever reason. The names will stay on the list for a month, unless otherwise asked to remove or extend. Also, we’re inviting Plymouth Creekers to consider becoming an intentional church prayer partner. What that involves is you committing to adding this expanded list into your regular prayer routine. Do you have morning devotions or every-third-day meditations? If so, just include these names into that time. If neither, why not start now?! It’ll help our community remain connected throughout the week in prayer. If you’d like to be a church prayer partner, contact me or Lyle, and we’ll reach out to you each Monday via email or phone (your choice!) with that week’s prayer concerns. Finally, if you have a prayer concern to add- and it’s not Sunday morning- do as we’ve done before and contact the church office to put it on our list. If it’s urgent- say, an emergency surgery- then church prayer partners will be contacted, like a prayer chain, ensuring good timing.

So that’s the new plan. Send me your feedback. We’re always open to helpful suggestions! In the meantime, I pray that you will pray, with increasing devotion, compassion and love.

Grace and Peace,


P.S. - Besides our regular tray on the Communion Table, we’re placing a prayer box in the narthex for anyone who comes into our church to put prayer concerns. So if you have something you’d prefer not to share during worship, but still want attended to by our prayer partners, slip in a note and we’ll include that concern.

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