Day 4 of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, a tradition started in 1908! Today we ponder John 15:15, “I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends.” Friends talk to each other.
One of the notable themes of yesterday’s inauguration was the presence of religion. Four past and to-be presidents went to church together before the event. The family Bible was sworn on. Pres. Bidden stopped for prayer in his speech for those affected by Covid. The young poetess mentioned the role of faith. The call for unity is a call for conversation and a realization of the enormity of the challenges facing us today. That is a call to prayer.
Praying in my closet is one thing but corporate prayer, prayer with others, often becomes a leader saying the prayer and the people chiming in, “amen.” Is it possible to pray wrong? If we use human friendship as our model then it is possible to say words that hurt and confront. Hopefully the tie of friendship allows for explanations and healing of these wounds. In Romans 8: 26-27, Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness,
“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
The discipline of corporate prayer is needed today. We can wait until Sunday and let the pastor say words that we agree on but we can also pray with a friend, a spouse, or a prayer partner. Prayers can be for the outcome of policies we want but they can also be for wisdom for our leaders, even as Solomon requested. Offer prayers for ears to hear each other as discussions about how to handle the challenges will seek consensus. Prayers for humility and vision are needed. Praying through a psalm or praying a hymn is a creative way to talk together. The Holy Spirit interprets our prayers so we need not fear. We will be blessed and those we pray for will be blessed also. Thank you, Lord.