Monday, October 22, 2012

Say it. Today.

Last night our pastor preached on creating a culture of prayer based on loving each other and cooperating with the Spirit... among other things. It dovetailed perfectly with our associate pastor's message yesterday morning on approaching God in humility instead of haughtiness, meekness instead of manipulation. Then pastor gave us an opportunity to put into practice what we'd been taught - to seek out someone as God would lead us, and pray with that person. What followed can only be described as a manifestation of tenderness. 

People left their pews and sidled into others - one by one - to touch someone on the shoulder, or to sit with him or her in the pew. Some had left their seats and were praying alone at the altar; others joined them - one to one - and prayed with them. I was on the platform in music ministry, sitting on the edge of one of the platform tiers, singing. Most of the time my eyes were closed, so what I saw was mostly in short 'vignettes' - snippets of time. 

It was beautiful. 

Praying for someone else builds unity
and relationships. Image source
I felt an arm across my back and a hand on my shoulder. Someone had taken a seat next to me. This person began to pray for me - and try as I might, I could not continue singing. The microphone - still in my hand - dropped to my lap. My tears started to flow, because I could tell through tone and through the sincerity of the grip on my shoulder that this person loved me ... a lot. 

The words were nice - but they weren't the main thing. The main thing was that this individual cared. Cared about me. Cared about my life. Cared about the people I loved, the things that mattered to me. Cared enough to talk to the Almighty One on my behalf. 

I'd been feeling like my efforts - at home, at church, with friends and family - sometimes were for nothing; I was starting to lose hope that the things I was hoping and praying for would come to pass. This person's prayer (and it wasn't to me; I just got to listen in!) renewed my faith, bolstered my belief. I needed that ... so much.

The prayer over, my benefactor squeezed my shoulder again and left to follow God's leading somewhere else. After a minute or so, I was able to mop up my face and resume singing.

After another few minutes, another person approached me with words of encouragement and affection expressed for both my husband and me. It was so very touching, and it met an inner need I didn't even know I had; I felt (and feel) so blessed, so grateful.

In that whole sanctuary, there was no gossip, no condemnation, no animosity or frustration with each other. The whole place was transformed.

The love in that room was tangible. Everyone felt it; I could tell by the looks of awe and peace that I saw on their faces as we gathered in a final circle to pray together as a group. 

This - this is community. This is a glimpse of the Church at her finest, realizing the grace of God and passing that grace along, building each other up, coming alongside each other, supporting and loving each other. 

I issue a challenge to you as a member of the community of faith. Ask God to bring someone to your mind who needs some encouragement, who is struggling and needs prayer. It might even be someone you think has it all together; trust God's leading on who it is. Pray for that person, pray in as many specifics as you know how - and then contact and encourage him or her. 

SAY it. Don't just think it. TODAY, not tomorrow, not next week. You never know when someone might need to hear something from your heart. 

You just never know.

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