A Praying Community
Have you been prayed for today? Have you prayed for someone else? I wonder if there is any aspect of the Christian life more frequently taken for granted than the practice of intercessory prayer. We are such a highly individualistic society - trained from birth to do everything on our own. Even our faith is taught to us in a very individualistic way – my Jesus, my conversion, my prayer-life, my confession. We leave little room for we in our discipleship training.
Luke 7:1-17 is an interesting passage that provides some subtle corrective for this problem. Two stories of healing from completely different perspectives, it is difficult at first to see why Luke chose to place them in such close proximity. In the first scene, Jesus is met, as he enters Capernaum, by a group of Jewish elders who were sent to speak on behalf of a Roman Centurion. These elders speak in glowingly respectful terms of this man, who has requested that Jesus come and heal his servant. As Jesus is on his way to the Centurion’s house he is confronted by another group who bring a second message from the Centurion. In short, the Centurion says, ‘Jesus, I’m not even worthy of having you come under my roof – just say the word and my servant will be healed.’ Jesus, amazed at the man’s faith, complies with the request and heals the servant from afar.
In the second story in this passage, Jesus encounters the funeral procession of a widow who has lost her only son. The widow was followed by a large crowd. This widow is facing a life of loneliness, hardship and anxiety with no one to provide or care for her. The immediate focus of attention is on Jesus and the widow, and Jesus says to her, ‘Do not weep’ and raises her son from the dead. However, I think Luke was very purposeful in mentioning the large crowd, and I think this little nugget is the link between these two stories. In a subtle way, Luke is pointing out to us the importance of the faith of the community in times where individuals have needs as great as the Centurion and the widow.
I had a friend who’s daughter underwent a very traumatic surgery, a very scary event for any parent. My friend had a wise prayer warrior call him and say, ‘I just want you to know that I’m praying for you and your daughter, even if and when you can’t pray.’ There are times when we are so broken, so frightened, so anxious, that you couldn’t even pray? Even Jesus had hoped that his friends would intercede for him while in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the invitation to live within a praying community! Already today, I’ve gotten notes from two beloved friends who’ve simply said, ‘Just wanted you to know I’m praying for you right now.’ Thank you Lord, for the Beautiful, Blessed, Beneficent body of your Son Jesus!
So, have you been prayed for today? Have you prayed for someone else? I invite you, just now, to join me in praying one of the Apostle Paul’s beautiful prayers of intercession (Ephesians 1:15-23 or Ephesians 3:16-21) on behalf of at least one person today, and make sure you let them know they’ve been prayed for. What a blessing, to be a part of a praying community!