Carol Aust, CIVA's Images of Faith
"Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints." -- Ephesians 6:18The devotional text points out the all-inclusive language in the Apostle Paul's letter to the Christians in Ephesus. He seems intent to leave no stone unturned in his exhortation: pray...at all times, in every prayer, always persevere, for all the saints.
Millenia later, my family has been direct recipients of what the text calls "Word-centered, communally framed prayer life". We have been held together by the hospitality of pray-ers, carried across both literal miles and intangible chasms of the unknown. There have been days I have known this embracing intercession as a sheet of bubble wrap buffering me from fear, doubt, grief, exhaustion. There have been nights I've woken and known the prayers of the saints in a snatch of hymn-lyric or soothing sentence playing over and over in my head.
During the final days of this year's June, on one particularly troublesome day it dawned on me that we were holding back our requests for fear of asking too much. It occurred to me that there was no better time than these present circumstances to get crystal-clear about our hopes and dreams and wishes and concerns and needs. That to make fuzzy, vaguely spiritual requests of our God and through our prayer community was a form of unbelief. A form of cooperating with the accusations of the Evil One against our Father, our brothers and sisters and ourselves.
Getting clear about our petition is the way to pray with eyes wide-open in expectation for God to move. Inviting community to make requests on our behalf bears us up and holds us accountable to remember and rehearse the movements of God on a daily basis.
And this is all in addition to the very Spirit of God who is at all times praying in us and for us. Oh blessed intercession! O blessed community!
"O Lord, never let us
think that we can stand by ourselves,
and not need you. Amen."
-- John Donne