Word of the Week

The Voices of Prayer

It is a custom during a weekly worship service at Washington Plaza that all have an opportunity to share their prayers of request or thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite parts of the service because of its intangible quality of authenticity each Sunday. There is nothing people won't ask prayer for. Our prayer time at Washington Plaza is  more than a "sick call;' it is time spent every week participating in real life. If someone is going to jail, we pray. If someone is having a difficult time with their children's behavior, we pray. If someone is grieving the loss of a pet, we pray. If someone finds a job after a long search, we celebrate!

Some weeks its short and some weeks it goes on and on causing me to re-examine how many pages of my sermon there are .  . . the unpredictable nature of the prayer time can drive you crazy as pastor, but it can always be equally wonderful.

Last Sunday after the "Prayers of the People" concluded,  what would have naturally occurred was a pastoral prayer. However, instead of just hearing my voice (as is the custom) we tried something different. "Difficult Family Relations" was the theme of the service. We were talking about God's gift of community and how it means we are to be a family as a congregation, lifting up the concerns of those within our church family as if they are part of our biological family.

So, I asked everyone to pray aloud for some of the prayers mentioned earlier or whatever was on their hearts. And, to do so all at the same time. I reminded everyone that "God would hear them even if the rest of the congregation could not."

I have to say that this experience of prayer was a little bit of heaven.  As I prayed some myself and then listened to the rumbling of voices praying within the congregation, I couldn't help but want the corporate collection of prayer voices to go on for a long time.  (I mean, did I really have to preach a sermon?)

There was beauty in those moments of not only knowing that we are a praying church, but in experiencing it in worship.  I truly felt connected to God in those moments with a heart of thanksgiving for the fact that the saints of God were among me. I hope those who were present felt the same as well.

We won't do this exercise every week, but I look forward to trying it again. Heaven you know, is just too exciting of a place not to experience, when the opportunity presents itself. It's a blessing to know even with all of the difficulties of our life journeys, we are not alone. The voices of prayer (no matter if we actually hear them or not) are interceding on our behalf now and always.