Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is prayer. Today we are talking about how we share our prayer life as a group. Today we also have some prayer life questions for the congregation to consider.
13 If any of you are suffering, they should pray. If any of you are happy, they should sing. 14 If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. 17 Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. 18 He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
19 My brothers and sisters, if any of you wander from the truth and someone turns back the wanderer, 20 recognize that whoever brings a sinner back from the wrong path will save them from death and will bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
The passage from James 5 describes a congressional prayer-life that includes: intercessory prayers, singing, anointing, confession, testimony, and salvation. As a part of our church tradition, there are many types of community prayers which we share as a group. Such prayerful moments unite us and encourage us to celebrate God’s collective call. There is nothing more powerful than the congregation standing together (actually or figuratively) as we worship and praise God. Remember Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am, also” (Matthew 18:19-20). As we come together as believers, our prayers are magnified by the power of the Spirit.
However, our church’s prayer life extends far beyond our spoken or our more traditional prayers. What about collectively hearing the chorus of our bell choirs or the powerful sounds of the Hallelujah Chorus? What about the artistic renderings of a group sharing in spiritual painting or our unique labyrinth created for quiet connection to the Spirit? There are also the loving practices of hand knitting prayers into beautiful prayer shawls; or how we have shared time and space to build sets that tell the story of Christmas. When we built our Family Life Center a few years ago, we literally embedded our prayers in the floors, walls, and beams of the structure. On many levels our group prayers are powerful, creative ways to wordlessly sanctify our connection to God.
We also have prayers of shared service. Think about how we’re now part of an internet ministry that goes out over the airwaves and reaches around the world. How many of us held out our hands in our living rooms as we prayed along with our pastors during the pandemic? How about MUMC collectively gathering food to share with the homeless or gathering backpacks and diapers for kids in need? Then there is also our growing pickleball group that shares laughter and increases connections, as well as a Caring Team that actively prays for our church family and beyond, even when we do it by Zoom. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but all these prayerful moments serve God as we seek to uniquely share in service to others. What I find most sustaining is that as we share ourselves and our activities in God’s name, we create powerful moments of connection. In more ways than we imagine, these are shared prayers that support the ministries of the church. So how else can we continue to share our prayer lives with one another to grow our church?
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
We want to know: what prayer activities do you most enjoy? How can we as a church grow and share our prayer life? Are there special types of prayer ministries or services you would like to see offered at MUMC? Reach out to our pastors or the church office, or click here to share any ideas you have!
Prayer: Holy One, thank you for the wonder of your church that helps us to connect to you and with one another. Please help us to foresee the needs of others. Please help us to be enriched and sustained in our prayer life with you. May all the ways of our prayers be heard so that we become the church that you have called us to be. Amen.