Nov16WedNovember 16, 2022
The end of November is nigh, and the Advent season will soon be upon us. What a joyful time it can be as we eagerly await the season of anticipation and celebration of our Saviour’s birth. This season can also be a time of stress, busyness and financial woe; and if we allow it, the decisions facing our congregation could easily mar the coming season of hope, peace, love and joy!
When life’s challenges become overwhelming and the space on the calendar is filled to overflowing something has to give. What will it be? Should we go to bed later, or get up earlier? How about shortening, or skipping lunch? What about that time we spend in quiet prayer or in reading the scripture; could we cut that down?
“13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 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. 15 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. 16 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: 1-16 (NIV)
In this section of scripture entitled, “The prayer of faith”, James is pretty clear in saying that no matter what life throws at you, the solution is prayer. Our lives today are busy! Too busy, many of us would say. But if you think you’re too busy to pray, perhaps you’re actually too busy NOT to pray.
In 1535, Martin Luther wrote a book called “A Simple Way to Pray”, that contained practical advice on prayer. In it, he recommended that prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. He also advised the reader to, “Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.”
When “nothing comes of prayer for that day”, we have lost a priceless time of intimacy with God; and that is too great a loss to imagine.
What if we saw these busy, stressful times as the reason to pray rather than the excuse not to do so? Be it thankfulness, confession, intercession, or petition, there is so much to pray for. Interceding for others keeps us mindful that we are a community – a congregation. In carrying our fellow believers to Jesus in prayer, we are like those who physically lowered their friend through the roof and placed him at Jesus’ feet to be healed of his paralysis.
Brothers and sisters, we are headed into a season that will not only be busy, but will challenge our congregation and perhaps even our faith. We cannot afford not to be praying for each other, and for the church.
“18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)