During worship on Sunday morning we pray in our church. That may not be much of a surprise. Churches are supposed to pray, aren't they?
Now I am not certain, but I suspect that my church prays a bit differently than the average congregation from the several different branches of Christianity that I have been associated with in my lifetime. I have been Lutheran and Methodist, and I'm currently serving a Reformed congregation. When worshipping among different congregations of those groups, and also other branches of the Christian family, I have been in powerful times of prayer.
One of the things that stands out to me in our congregation is that each Sunday we ask for prayer requests. Each Sunday I walk into the aisle and ask if there is anything anyone wants to lift up. And each Sunday there are from perhaps 10 (rarely), to 15-20 (much more common), to even more, things that the congregation wants lifted in prayer. So I work those requests into our congregational prayer and then keep them as the things I pray over during the next week.
Prayer requests aren't that unusual but in my experience there are many congregations that won't do them, or if asked, people do not share them. I think it is a blessing to serve a congregation where people share what is on their hearts.
But not everyone wants to share every concern, and there is a way we handle that. There are slips of paper, like the one in the picture, where people can write down their requests and share them with me in confidence.
Disclaimer: I am not about to share a confidential request, nor am I going to share something that was contrived to make a point.
After supper this evening I went over to church to go through the sermon I have prepared for a funeral tomorrow. And as I walked into church I glanced at the little table where the blank prayer request forms usually are and I found the one in the picture.
Now on this past Sunday, after worship, I had personally cleaned the church and put things away. This request was not present at that time. So it must have been placed there yesterday, at the funeral I preached yesterday.
I also had a funeral late last week, so tomorrow will be three funerals in eight days, at my church, and I am aware of at least one other funeral, today, in a different church. For a town of about 3,000 that is a lot of heartache.
One of the things that is "standard" in our congregational prayer is to pray for our community. It is something that I work into the prayer without anyone needing to bring it up.
In Colossians 4:2 Paul writes:
"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving."
I am glad for this anonymous invitation to continue in prayer for our community. I am glad that God worked through someone, unknown to me but fully known to Him, to leave this slip of paper in our church. Someone who knows that the healing for our heartache will be found in God.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.