Acts 16: 6-15
Paul, Silas and John Mark are on the move and it seems they have now added Luke to their team as he includes himself in the narrative. They are moving around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea from Israel. They sense spiritually they are to go to Macedonia and Philippi, its capital. On the Sabbath, they “went outside the city gate to the river, where we (the men) expected to find a place of prayer.” Whether this is a known place of prayers to gather is not clear but they find people to share with and among them is Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She is a “worshipper of God.” They share. She believes and invites them into her home. The story has several points that cause me to reflect, besides that Luke takes time to tell of the conversion of a woman, Lydia.
The men were looking for a “place of prayer” on the Sabbath. On Sunday, when I go to church what am I looking for? Often we are occupied thinking of who we are going to see and catch up with. Often we might be thinking about the topic of the adult class we attend. Perhaps we are at that place in life when we are preoccupied with our children. I doubt few of us would say we go to church to find a place to pray. That adds a twist that challenges my motives for Sunday worship. Prayer is part of the experience but not the focus. Looking for a place of prayer implies to me that our men were looking for a place to encounter God and that place was outside the city gates, outside the normal work week places.
Lydia was a “worshipper of God” which I think we would call a “seeker” today. Our men are sharing their faith stories with people who also are wanting to grow in their faith and experience of God. It does not imply to me that they were gathered for cognitive growth, to learn more about whatever Scriptures but were seekers after relationship with the Holy. Again I am challenged to ponder what I am seeking when I attend worship.
Perhaps the point to ponder is to ask ourselves where do we go when we want to pray. What is our special “prayer closet?” How do we get outside the city gates and quiet our souls to concentrate on relationship to God? Are we God worshippers, open to learning more about God from others at church or are we content in the status quo? The characters in this scenario come to a river. But more importantly, they are thirsty. Lord may we never take you for granted but find that place of prayer where I can grow this week. May I thirst after encounters with you!