Last blog I wrote about “Community of Confession” as a means of freeing ourselves totally of the burden of our sins. I said then I was having a bit of a struggle with the community thing, which I still am, but I am working on it. It seems that those things that keep repeating themselves unintentionally get my attention the quickest; leading me to this weeks blog. While reading today’s “ Our Daily Bread” devotional it gave me a moment to rethink what I was working on this week. That plus the unexpected and sudden illness of one of our church family, led me to totally be drawn to another part of community within the church. The “Community of Prayer”. What in the world is community of prayer? We have prayer Chains, prayer Groups and prayer Services, to name just a few of the roles prayer fills in our Christian church community, but what is “Community Prayer”? So…as I always do I checked with a reliable source.
Definition of prayer
1 a (1) : an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought (2) : a set order of words used in praying b : an earnest request or wish, 2: the act or practice of praying to God or a god kneeling in prayer, 3: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural, 4: something prayed for
Ok, familiar with those definitions and while I don’t see “community”, the word here, it is implied. I still don’t get that from the author of that “Our Daily Bread” devotional. Nope, the author was reaching beyond the familiar definition and broadening the scope and power of prayer and I believe that is what got my attention. When I read the definition above it is clear that is how we as mortals converse with our god. Here is another little pick-up. I did not capitalize god in the previous sentence and for a good reason. There are many gods that people converse with, remember Paul? Acts 17:22-24
Paul Before the Areopagus
22Then Paul stood up before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and examined your objects of worship, I even found an altar with the inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore what you worship as something unknown, I now proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. (Berean Study Bible)
Paul makes it very plain. Our God is different than the many other gods people worship, our God is real. Today in all the world there are other gods that people worship but there is only one true God. Just as we learned that there is strength in community, when people come together with common purpose, things happen. We know as sinners that we not only need the forgiveness of God and the strength of his mercy and grace to change, we need the support of those around us to encourage and validate our desire to change. that brings us to the community thing again. People need people so the song said but what we need more is that prayerful exchange with our God to be full and complete in the faith. I have always approached prayer as having a conversation with God and that is good and alright in my book. Through prayer we seek to find forgiveness, guidance in our everyday lives, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, find healing for the sick and petition our God for our needs. Just as we are encouraged to come together and confess our sins, lifting each other up, it is right and good to come together in praise of our God, and through prayer with those in the community of faith who wait for his presence to come among us.(Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”)
Still there is something else missing just as there was in our discussion of whether it was necessary to confess in totality our sins to the brothers and sisters in the faith. What purpose would that serve. I quote from my last post the answer to that question.
“I can confess my sins in all totality to God but unless I share with others my struggles in all their damning excesses, how will that glorify my God or my Savior Jesus Christ? How can the magnitude of that glory and grace and what it has done for me ever be known?”
That is what is missing this week. When we pray we glorify God and all people will know we are a person of prayer, trusting our God’s will to be our salvation and meet our needs. When we come together as a “Christian Community” our prayers are multiplied many times over. We can draw on each others strength and faith and present to the world a God who not only dwells among his people but hears their cries and supplications.
Jude 1:20 – 21
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,[g] 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
One thing I have learned sitting in the pew is the importance of the presence of those around me. God did not intend faith to be a solitary thing, scripture attests to that fact. So I guess this “community” thing has more meaning than we sometimes give it credit for. It was, is and will always be God’s intention that we come together as a community of believers, praising, praying, serving and worshiping together as many but with one body. I pray that you will be in that “community” this Holy day and lift your prayers and supplications in many voices as one to the one and only True God.
Come back and join us in the pew next week. Life is Good…