Let Us Pray...
Earlier this year I was given a copy of a book called Bullseye: Aiming to Follow Jesus. And more than that I read it!
Bullseye was written by the ministry personnel from North Bramalea United Church in Ontario to share some of the wisdom they picked up as North Bramalea has been revitalized and grown over the years (for more information about NBUC talk to Karen Scott as she knows a bit about that community). There are lots of nuggets in this book. I would actually love to re-read it with a group of folks so we could discuss what we see there and where/if we see it intersecting with our life here at St. Paul’s. [And then I read Fishing Tips by John Pentland where he shares the learnings he found in the revitalization of Hillhurst United in Calgary, which was expected to close and now is a thriving multi-staff faith community, and want also to read it with a group from the congregation – maybe we can do both some day.] But early in my reading of Bullseye something struck me.
The book is about growing disciples, as that is what NBUC sees as a key part of who they are. The first target Jamie and Debbie write about is Spiritual Practises. One of those is prayer. Prayer is a vital part of how we reconnect with God. Prayer is vital to our growth both as individuals and as a faith community. And then I started to think.
How can we increase the ministry of prayer in our faith community? Is there a way we can become more intentional about holding each other, and the community around us, in prayer? I truly believe that the community that prays together grows closer. I believe that prayer clears our minds and allows us to gain an understanding of who we are called to be as people of faith.
A few ideas came to mind. One is that I want to set aside a period of time each week, at first I thought Wednesdays at lunch time but maybe there is a better time, for some of us to gather in the sanctuary and pray. What we would pray for/about would depend on what we bring to the circle that day.
Another idea was something we used to have. When I first arrived in Grande Prairie St. Paul’s had a prayer group. This was a group of people who had committed to offer prayers for people who were struggling in some way. We would meet every month to 6 weeks to update who was on the list and then people would pray at home for those names. Over time those who had been providing leadership and were the driving force behind that group became unable to be as active and the group sort of faded away. I would like to see if we can get it started. Because the community that is held in prayer is strengthened, just by knowing they are held in prayer.
A third idea was that I may create a prayer cycle for the congregation. This would be a way for us to hold each part of our faith community in the Prayers of the People at sometime during the year. Not because of some major celebration or concern (we would still have time in worship to share those) but simply because they are a part of our faith family and we care about them. If I start on that soon I might have it ready for 2018.
Beyond those things, I point out that prayer is a ministry we all can take part in. In invite, encourage, and challenge each one of us to hold each other, to hold our neighbours, to hold ourselves, in prayer. Prayer does not have to be fancy or formal or use special words. It can simply be laying names and circumstances before God. As people of faith prayer is part of who we are. Let us pray...