For 20 March 2020: The Fourth Friday of Lent
Read: Luke 11:1-4
I use a daily guide to devotions and prayer which was first published in 1959. One of the great values of this guide is that it makes me think about my calling and work from a different perspective every day. Friday focuses on pastor as an intercessor – one who prays for others. I think that’s something we can all do, prayer for others, especially during this time of COVID-19.
My early mornings spent quietly on the front porch alone with God and God’s creation is where I find strength for my daily journey. The mornings on the front porch are a time for renewal, refreshment, and reflection. I gives me the insight I need to go about the rest of my day. It gives me a calm beginning and helps me to understand the things which are laying heavy on my heart. It is my “alone with God” time.
When do you spend time alone with God? Some of us can find a way to carve out that time. Others of us have difficulty carving out time so we spend time with God when we can. It might be on the road driving someplace. It could be taking a daily walk. Your time with God could be the time in the shower. When and how aren’t nearly as important as that you do spend some time alone with God each day.
No matter when or how we spend time alone with God, what do we do in that time? I spend time reading Scripture, reflecting on things past and things to come, observing the wonder of creation, and preparing myself for the day ahead. It’s my time to give to God not just the burdens I carry, but everything in my day. I pray for the appointments coming up, the meetings scheduled, the work of the congregation, and for the members of the congregation. I actually pray for the members of the congregation, each by name. It takes me time, but it is worth it.
What if each one of us were to pray for every member of our congregation by name? In these days of COVID-19, I think this is one way we can continue to strengthen the bonds of our community: We can be praying for each other every day. We don’t need a special request or a special need. Praying for each other can be as simple as seeking God’s guidance and protection in someone’s life. Maybe the prayer could be a prayer of thanksgiving that this other person is in your life. However, we might pray, how would praying for each other name by name, person by person, change us? I believe it would.
I used to have a little poster on the door to my room at home. Grandpa Payne, a retired United Methodist pastor and father of my aunt, was at the house for a family gathering. It was Thanksgiving. Grandpa Payne stopped outside my door to read it. The poster read, “Life if fragile, handle with prayer.” He nodded approvingly. Turning to the 17-year-old me he said, “Remember that when you are a pastor. It will serve you and your congregations better than you know.” Grandpa Payne was right. Prayer has more often than not been the key and cornerstone for ministry.
In these days when we aren’t able to gather because of this viral outbreak and pandemic, we are able to gather in prayer. We might not be able to hug one another or share coffee in the Great Hall, but we are able to surround one another with prayer. It’s another way to be a community together: A community of prayer.