I remember well the Sunday I sat in church directly in front of a little boy of about 8 or 9 years old. He was sitting with what I assumed were his parents and grandparents. He was a typical little boy, as he wiggled and squirmed and banged the pew in front of him with his feet – full of life, full of energy and full of questions; lots of questions. He asked why we did this, and why we did that, and what the guy up front was doing now? Question after question, asked in his little boy whisper that wasn’t really a whisper at all – and I was pleased as I heard his grandfather try to answer his questions quietly but honestly. The truth was, I actually enjoyed listening in on this private teaching time.
But what really moved me was during the time for prayer. As the sanctuary stilled, and the pastor began to pray, this little guy quieted down – the questions finally coming to an end. And when we were invited to pray The Lord’s Prayer, a little, clear voice rang out behind me, “OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME …” On he went, proudly proclaiming every word of that familiar prayer.
I found myself no longer saying the words, but just listening – moved by a small child’s boldly offered prayer.
As Christians we believe in the power of prayer.
We have experienced lives changed – through prayer.
We have seen miracles of healing – through prayer.
We have found strength beyond our own – through prayer.
And yet, all too often our prayers become rote – just words shared before a meal, or quickly offered at bedtime, or remembered only during Sunday morning worship. If we really believe in the power of prayer, shouldn’t our prayers be bolder, rather than our normal lackluster offerings?
I once heard it said that, “Prayer has the capacity to shape us in the ways of God.” That thought alone should drive us to our knees!
Friends, in a little over three months, United Methodists from around the state of Michigan will gather in Adrian and Grand Rapids, to participate in our 2013 Annual Conferences. The decisions we make – the inspiration we receive – the knowledge we gain – the fellowship we experience – the witness we make together will impact the direction and the spirit of the United Methodist Church in the Michigan Area for years to come.
So just imagine with me for a moment....
What would happen if, over these next three months all United Methodists covenanted together to participate in the corporate spiritual discipline of prayer for the upcoming Annual Conference sessions?
How would our Annual Conferences be different if we were to boldly bathe them in prayer?
How would our conversations be different?
How would our debate be different?
How would our worship be different?
How would our decisions be different?
Just imagine … the power of tens of thousands of United Methodists engaged in prayer – for the ministries, the outreach, and the witness of our beloved United Methodist Church in the Michigan Area! Imagine!
We are entering now into the season of Lent – the holiest season of the Christian year. It is a time when we are called to prayer and repentance as we seek to deepen our relationship with God. So it is appropriate that during this holy time I ask each and every one of us to join with me in prayer for our 2013 Annual Conferences.
Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
pray for wisdom;
pray for hope;
pray for direction.
May we pray boldly;
May we, like that little boy in church, pray with the confidence that our prayers are heard;
And may we, through our prayers – be shaped in the ways of God.
With you in the work of Christ,