Yesterday, we were reminded that, in these unusual days, it’s still good to gather. I’ve been asked to write a follow up article to keep before us that it’s also still good to pray. So let me get right to it: Despite lockdown, it’s still a priority to pray. Perhaps because of lockdown it is now even more a priority that we pray. Do you believe that?
When the eldership meets for our bi-weekly meetings we usually pray for ten to fifteen members of the church. Stuart sends a message to those members and asks for particular matters for which we can pray. Not often, but still too often, some members have either not responded at all, or have responded with a message indicating “thanks, but no thanks.” That is sad on a couple of levels.
For one thing, as those entrusted with the privilege to care for the flock, it is disheartening when the privilege of meaningful prayer is taken from us. But the primary discouragement arising from this “silence of the lambs” is the subtle communication that prayer is not deemed important. Yet, brothers and sisters, prayer is one of the most important and meaningful things we can do for one another! It should be a priority for us. Why is it too often neglected? Why are we hesitant to ask for prayer? Is the reason lack of faith? Or, and related to unbelief, does the silence indicate self-sufficiency? Perhaps.
In these days, the temptation to self-sufficiency, as well as its ugly twin, self-preservation, is increasingly prevalent. All the more reason for us to prioritise prayer. We need to prioritise spending time in our private and familial prayer closets, but we also need to prioritise corporate prayer. Though the latter is more difficult due to current restrictions, nevertheless it is still good to prioritise our Sunday evening prayer time.
As recently announced, we are now opening Sunday evenings for gathering at the church premises. Up to fifty people can gather in what is a sanitised and therefore, we trust, a protocol-followed safe environment.
This past Sunday evening felt a little more like a “normal” prayer time. We had several people leading in prayer for specific items and the prayers were, as we used to say around here, “brief but meaningful.” Feedback we have received indicates that those at home were blessed as they were able have time to pray meaningfully as there was less needless repetition than in past weeks.
Fourteen of us gathered (1.5 metres apart!) and it was special. After a few weeks of a handful of people, it seemed like a full house! Anyway, I want to make an appeal for church members to register for the Sunday night gathering. Please come and pray with others and be willing to lead in praying for particular requests.
In the words of Stuart, the response to his appeal last week for volunteers to come and pray has been “woeful.” (Actually, that is a word, not words, but you get the point).
Brothers and sisters, as I warned yesterday, we face the real danger of falling into spiritual complacency when it comes to our spiritual disciplines, when it comes to exercising our will and our bodies with respect to the means of the grace of gathering. Over the decades, God has blessed BBC with a Sunday evening ethos of prayerful gathering. We need to steward this privilege, especially in these trying times. One way to do so (for those who are able) is to gather at the building to pray. Another way is to be sure and login to the livestream and to turn your lounge into a prayer closet. Either way, we need to remember that it’s still a priority to pray.
Praying with—I hope!—and for you,