From Pastor's Desk

Sustaining the Prayer Life of the Church

In the month of January of every year, we, the church, begin with the 21 days of prayer. We meet every morning from 6 to 6.30 during the weekdays. The members of the prayer team take their time to prepare the prayer points for that day and lead others in a time of prayer. This year was very special since the response was overwhelming. We had at least 15 callers every morning even though everyone did not pray but the prayer time was meaningful and refreshing. The scripture especially the Psalmist reminds us that we need to seek God very early in the morning. “O GOD, you are my God; early will I seek You” (Psalm 63:1a, NKJV). This is great but this seeking God early in the morning may not be everyone. While some seek God in the morning others may seek Him before going to bed. Whatever be the time, seeking God must be our priority.

If there is one thing that Jesus modeled for the disciples and thereafter to the church is this time with God. This is what Mark writes, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35, NIV). Jesus did this (prayed) all the time. Jesus was in prayer (according to Luke’s gospel) during baptism while the Holy Spirit fell on Him. Jesus prior to choosing His disciple spent the night in prayer probably asking His Father to help him make that decision so that those whom He did not choose will not get hurt by the choice or whatever could be the reason.

The Apostle Paul continues to instruct the church to pray “all the time,” and for many things. First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Look at how he starts, “first of all.” This reveals the importance of prayer in the life of the early church. The first disciples prayed for everything. When they wanted to decide who should take the place of Judas, they prayed. When they sent people to establish churches, they prayed. They did this not because they were “churchy” people but that was their way of inviting God into their decision-making process and most importantly, they wanted to find what is the plan and purpose of God for the church in the world.

We are off to a great start but how do we sustain this throughout the year is the big question I am wrestling with. I do not have a proper response, but I earnestly want to seek your help to sustain the prayer life of the church. You might say we already have a Wednesday prayer night where we pray for the needs of the church members, the community, and the needs of the world. Some of you might even suggest that we can rework the last Saturday of the month fasting and prayer into the church’s schedule. I agree, but there must be more to sustaining this prayer life.

In the Episcopal tradition and even the Church of South India, there is what is called the “morning prayer.” The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) in the Anglican tradition has a section for morning prayer. If I have not mistaken, there is a Psalm, an Epistle and a Gospel lesson that is assigned for the day. The scripture portion is read and if there is a prayer request it is then mentioned and prayed for. What if we try this beginning in February! It will be from 6-6.15 AM every weekday morning.

I will need the help of so many in the congregation who have a passion to pray for. We can prepare a calendar with the as- signed readings for the day, we simply read it and one of us pray for a particular prayer need or prayer point and close. Remember, the prayer must be short and to the point! In this way, we start the day with prayer just like Jesus did- taking that quality time with His Father. Am I asking for too much? May be. I was prompted to write after our prayer this morning. Let’s try it for the month of February and if this is too much, then we readjust our plan, but we must find a way to sustain the momentum we have gained. We must find ways to “Sustain the Prayer Life of the Church.”

My deepest desire for the church is to sustain the prayer life of every believer. It certainly will come at a cost of losing our snuggly moment in the morning, but I believe it will rejuvenate our prayer life and it will certainly make us better people and better church as we seek the heart of God on behalf of the world.

Rev. Kamalesh Stephen

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