The Gift of Prayer
Several days ago I was experiencing a very low mood. I am not sure what caused it, but if I had a “hope-o-meter,” it would not have registered very much. I don’t suppose any of you have had a day like that, but this one was pretty tough. I wasn’t even sure how to begin my prayer when I finally lay my head down on my pillow except to say, “God, I love you. Help!”
Everyone has down days. Some just seem lower than others. But often it is in these “low tides” of our lives that we find the value of the gift of prayer. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39). Even Jesus had moments when his circumstances seemed to be more than he could bear.
During that low time last week I met a new friend. During our conversation, she shared a part of her life with me, including some very low times she had experienced recently. As I listened to her recount sorrow after sorrow, I began to realize, once again, that we all have times of pain and feelings of loss and frustration. I began to identify with her, and I wanted to reach out to her and let her know that she wasn’t alone. Her commitment to faith, in spite of all that had been happening, had inspired me to faith as well.
As I prayed for her and her family, something changed in my spirit. I found the gift that comes with prayer: As I pray for another, I am lifted up as well. When I couldn’t pray for myself, I was able to pray for her, and through that prayer God gave me faith for my own situation.
I suppose the true gift of praying for another person is that when we put another’s needs ahead of our own, even if only for a moment, we allow our needs and desires and frustrations to take a back seat. That act of “stepping back” frees us from the single focus we were experiencing and helps us to look at our own needs with new vision.
The poet, Maya Angelou, said it this way: “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” And our former first lady, Barbara Bush, realized the same truth. “Giving frees us from the familiar territory of our own needs by opening our mind to the unexplained worlds occupied by the needs of others.” In giving of myself in prayer, I receive a blessing from God, kind of like casting my bread on the waters. As I pray for you, I draw closer by talking to God. And as I do so, I can sense God’s Spirit anew in my own life.
Don’t lament that you haven’t received some tremendous spiritual gift! The truth is that every believer has an important gift, that is, the gift of prayer. Through it we are able to help and encourage others, while at the same time deepening our own relationship with God. Talk to God today. Tell God about your troubles. But don’t forget to talk to God about others. You’ll find God often sends your answers while you are praying for someone else.
On the Local Front
My husband Donald and I were talking recently about the stories the “old-timers” used to tell us when we were in Bible college, about when their paycheck was a chicken, or some eggs, or something from a parishioner’s garden. Although it hasn’t replaced my paycheck (yet?), we are nevertheless grateful to those who have shared the bounty of their gardens with us this summer. Yum! What a blessing!
Our adult Sunday school class had a great discussion on James 1:19-21 this week. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” At a time when so many are quick to speak and slow to listen, we talked about learning humility and showing God’s grace with our ears and our tongues. One person stated that if we all learned to listen quickly and speak slowly, in other words to be humble, our world would be a much better place to live. Amen!
Worship followed right along as we celebrated our call to share the Word of God and faith with others in our relationships and community. In Mark 6:53-56, the people ran around the countryside finding everyone who needed a touch from Jesus and brought them to Him. We were challenged by their example to consider how much “running” we have done to bring others Christ, especially through our example and lives. May God help us to be truly faithful!
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt