Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prayers of the People - Worship and Spiritual Formation

This is the meditation on prayer I gave today as our church begins exploring spiritual disciplin and formation through corporate worship.

"We have a rich tradition of prayer here at Pope UMC as seen in the Pastoral Prayer element of the service. Every week we take a moment to make our requests known to God (Phil 6:4). We are going to shift things a bit today. Your prayers are important but they aren't my prayers and they aren't Pastor Robert's prayers. We do pray together these requests as a community but these prayers are yours. Just because someone is a pastor doesn't mean God listens to them more.

We see that prayer is very important even in Jesus' ministry. Jesus initiated his ministry by going into the desert for 40 days to pray and to fast. Near the end of his ministry in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus came before the Father in prayer saying "If you can Lord, take this cup. But when it comes down to it let your will be done and not mine." Christ knew that prayer is how we align our heats with the will of God "... your will be done."

Prayer brings us to the heart of God and it also gives us a venue to listen and hear his plan for us. Prayer is not just about making requests but God's requests are also made known to us. It warms our heart to Him. Not only that but prayer is just talking to God.

So we are going to start the next few moments with silence to focus our hearts and minds on God. To clear out the busyness and really listen for His voice. After our time of silence we are going to go through the Prayers of the People as listed in the hymnal on page 877. I will start by praying "Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer. Together we pray for... the people of this congregation..." Either out loud or in your heart take a moment to pray a sentence prayer for those people. After a few moments we will move onto "...those who suffer and those in trouble..." You can see how this flows in the hymnal. After our prayers for the church universal I will close our time of prayer. Again you can choose to pray silently or openly. But I encourage you to pray a loud so that we may agree and pray with you.

Now don't think of this as a strange or odd thing. Think of this as an exercise. Like walking for heath or practice for proficiency at your job or something like that. I want to challenge with with a spiritual workout. This is also something tangible and practical you can integrate into your everyday lives as we desire to be apart of God's plan for his world and our own lives. So, let us pray together. "