I have a very dear friend who is currently in the hospital battling a severe infection. She shared with me about two friends of hers as well as the hospital chaplain who have prayed very specifically and personally for her both before her surgery and now since. Because of this, she has learned more of how to pray as a result of listening to them. When they would first ask her “Can I pray for you?” (and they meant here and now) her first reaction was one of discomfort and feeling nervous, but then, as they prayed for her, the tears would come and she would feel bathed in their comforting words.
I have known the same experience of having people pray for me out loud in recent years and it always is a profound experience and I am aware that these people truly know how to pray. They pray these rich, meaningful, specific, personal prayers because this is what they do all the time.
So, I find myself asking “Why didn’t I ever pray like that while I was still in the meetings and still in the Work?” The group almost prides itself on being a praying people and yet in reality, I so seldom prayed.
I did not pray by sick beds or death beds with the sick or the dying. Or with anyone who needed prayer. I never asked. Yes, I would walk away and pray privately for them. I loved them and cared deeply. I’m not saying we have to pray with people but I think an opportunity has been missed for blessing and for tapping into God’s provision and power.
Praying out loud with others (not in a meeting setting) was not a custom in the group. It still isn’t as far as I know. It wasn’t something I would have been comfortable doing because it was never done. Frankly, it never occurred to me. (What a travesty) I also saw it as something ‘religious’ people did for show. Missing those opportunities to serve and minister to others is something I have asked forgiveness for.
But, I keep coming back to the question, “But why didn’t we pray?” I think it’s more than just the reasons in the above paragraph. Push past the discomfort, the customs, and fear of what others would think. Why didn’t we stretch ourselves out of our comfort zones for the sake of a brother or sister who needed prayer in their very real time of need?
Unbelief! Unbelief in the fervent prayer of a righteous person being powerful and effective. Unbelief in Jesus words to pray believing. Yes, I can pray privately for those in need and I will always need to do that. But there are times when I need to follow the urgent promptings of the Holy Spirit to pray with someone because they need to hear it right then. They obviously aren’t as able to pray for themselves right then and they need to hear someone pray specifically and personally for them. I need to believe, in that moment, that prayer works. I need to believe God that He will give me the words, the courage and the faith in that moment and that He will answer prayers.
Where is my faith when I’m in the trenches?
“Do I have a deep water faith but only in the shallow end?”
(The Alter and the Door by Casting Crowns)
Where is my boldness for Christ? What do I really have spiritually?
“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:14-16
James had obviously proven this works and he had faith that it would continue to work but I never once saw this practiced in the meeting group. It totally baffles me why it isn’t done. Oh, may we truly be a people who pray!