Sharing the journey
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NRSV
On Monday we looked at how we never walk apart from God, and on Wednesday we looked at how we are always in his grace. But this discussion we’ve been having about “journeying” wouldn’t be complete without also looking at the people we share God’s presence and grace with. God never expected us to walk a solitary journey.
A while back I came across this sermon from Mark Gungor titled, “What prayer is not” (via Colleen’s blog; the relevant part starts at around 25 minutes in until about the 40 minute mark). He talks about how we wuss out when it comes to really sharing our faith lives, our faith journeys. He applies this specifically to prayer and tackles what he calls “fast food Christianity” – we’re so focussed on running people through our churches and our altar calls that we don’t really connect with them. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say that we don’t need to know what we’re praying about for prayer to work, and that’s absolutely true because the power of prayer is in God and not in the one praying. But that’s missing the point. When we ask for prayer but don’t elaborate on the request, two things happen: we deny people the opportunity to help, and we deny ourselves the opportunity to help others.
What does that mean? Well, when we go in for “anonymous prayer requests”, we deny people the opportunity to really help us – through their support, through their empathy and through their fellowship. We deny them the opportunity to be our support system, our sisters and brothers in Christ, people who have the divine duty to give a damn and the divine responsibility to hold us accountable. When we insist on “putting on a brave face” and filling in an anonymous prayer card, we also rob other people of the power of our testimony. So many times I’ve seen that it takes just one person to admit, You know, my faith life is not all that. I’m struggling, and others will invariably chime in – I thought it was just me, or Me too! And afterwards it’s like, Why were we so afraid to share!? Why were we so preoccupied with keeping this mask on? Who did it benefit to keep this mask on?
(Think about this.)
In his sermon Mark says, “Prayer wasn’t designed that you could hide.” So why are we using this life-giving, faith-renewing, intimacy-increasing practice to put up “DO NOT ENTER” signs all around the boundaries of our lives? Yes, there’s risk, but I think not sharing in each other’s lives, not walking together on this journey, costs us much more than the risk of a person not understanding or not responding in the way we need them to. The Lord would not say, “For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:21 AMP) without providing you with one or two other people to pray with you, to share with you, to walk with you, whether you are in a church or not. But will we be brave enough to find them? And will we be brave enough to be them?
Grant me to recognise in others, Lord God, the radiance of your own face. –Teilhard de Chardin (Source.)
A look back
Consider taking a moment to think over these questions about this week’s topic.
- Where in your own journey with God have you most keenly felt his perceived absence? Looking back at it, can you see how God carried you through that time?
- Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like, or were made to feel like, you had to earn God’s favour? How did that affect your relationship with him?
- Consider taking concrete steps to encourage more sharing prayer in your own life. Ask a friend or two to pray with and for you; offer to pray for others. Start a group on social media to make sharing prayer easier. Set a reminder on your phone to check in with others during the weekend.