I hope the title of this article caught your attention. If it did it was doing its job! At this point you may be wondering if this is going to be an article about the economics of discipleship. Or perhaps this could be a commentary on the costs of salvation. However, instead of this being an update on church finances, this article is a report on outreach, engagement, and community involvement.
Please hear this good news, prayer is something that we can all do! I imagine we all pray for ourselves: for our salvation, for God’s mercy, and for our forgiveness. We also lift up other people in prayer: close and distant family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and even strangers we pass along the way to our daily lives. We pray for people and places we have seen, as well as people and places we can barely picture in our imaginations. Prayers are lifted up for things we have experienced along with things we can only hope for.
If you have ever wondered about what to pray about or more importantly how to start your prayers, don’t worry because you are not alone! Where do I start? Do I pray for other people first? Do I pray for my family or myself first? Or do I just start off with the obvious situations and circumstances around me? These are questions we all ask and wonder about. However, there is no secret to prayer. The only way to start is to acknowledge there are things we cannot handle alone and only God will understand.
...there is no secret to prayer. The only way to start is to acknowledge there are things we cannot handle alone and only God will understand.
I know that simplifies prayer and does not give any guidance on how to pray. And if at this point you are looking for the secret formula or an outline to the perfect prayer you won’t find it here. But I would like to share a way I pray that I find helpful. Here are three simple steps: remember, celebrate, and ask. First remember what God has done: God created us, breathed into us the breath of life, lived and died, and was resurrected so that we may be forgiven and granted eternal life. For that I am joyful and give thanks: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. And then I remember I am still in need of grace and mercy. I ask God to help and guide people I know, I pray for myself, and I also pray for others I do not know and for lives I cannot even imagine. Again I remind you that this might not be a perfect way to pray, but it is one way.
Then there is the direct approach to finding out what you need to pray about, and that is to ask! You can start this exercise by asking yourself. What are you in need of? What things in life can only God handle? After that you can ask someone else what you can pray for her or him about. It can be as simple as asking, “Can I pray for you?” Or, “What can I pray about for you?” Not only will you be praying to God, but you will also be building relationships and community.
If you have been to worship recently and looked through the announcement insert in your bulletin, or if you have noticed the television screens displaying events in the narthex or in the Well, you may have noticed a picture of me inviting you to “Offsite Office Hours” at Café Carolina in Cameron Village. Over the past few months I have met with many people. Several of them church members. Some of them come almost every week. Others stop by so that we can get to know each other. Some come by for pastoral counseling. And each week people are there getting breakfast or a cup of coffee and stop by to chat. Whatever the circumstance may be, each encounter ends with prayer.
Along with praying for Hayes Barton UMC members, I also try to reach out and pray for the community outside the church each week. I do this by posting a sign on my table that says, “Free Prayer.” This is so people that come to the Café Carolina outside of the Hayes Barton UMC community can identify me as a Christian pastor and come to me so that we can pray together. Each week I have several interactions with the general public. It is a humbling experience to listen to others, to be with them as they share or seek their faith, and then to share a moment of prayer.
If you have had an opportunity to come by and have “Free Prayer” with me, I am thankful. If you have not yet had the opportunity or if it doesn’t fit your schedule, as one of your pastors, I am still in prayer for you. And if you are in need of prayer and wish to share your concerns with a pastor, Pastor Rick, Pastor Molly, and myself are here for you. Or you can just stop by Café Carolina each Thursday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and we can pray together. Thanks be to our Savior Jesus Christ we are forgiven, life is eternal, and each time we pray it is free!
With peace and love,