By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-8 NIV)
As we continue in this month of May to consider the role of women in our lives, and we think of the praying mother that our Lord Jesus had in Mary his mother, let us consider our own life of prayer and the ways in which we may improve in this regard.
- PRAYING FOR FAMILY
We may all pledge to pray for family members daily, including our extended family. Depending on the situation, we may have to spend nights on our knees and days talking to the Lord, as we drive, work, play, or engage in other pastimes. Those who are less active may spend days in a prayer chair, reading the bible and hymnbook while looking out of the window in between sleeping and remaining awake. Wherever, whenever, however, we are called to love our own, and to want the best for them.
How well do you support your family with prayer? Are you actively engaged in really listening to them? How much do you empathise with them, or are you quick to judge, criticise and condemn? Let us all resolve to be more caring and compassionate toward those who are closest to us, or who are related to us by blood or marriage.
- PRAYING FOR OTHERS
Some churches have prayer counsellors who pray for those who come to them during a service, at a prayer group meeting, or on the telephone or some form of social media. You may feel called to such a confidential and personal intercessory ministry. Others receive lists of names to pray for or are in a prayer chain where requests travel quickly from person to person.
There is another less formal prayer ministry that occurs on the spot. Any encounter, at any location, may become a quiet time of prayer with some known to us or with a total stranger. An observant and a sensitive spirit is all you need to hear when God is nudging us to offer to pray for and with someone. Very often, the relief is palpable. Promise yourself that you will bless someone this week with the gift of unexpected prayer in a non-threatening and respectful way, once permission has been given. It should be inconspicuous and quiet in order not to draw unnecessary attention and embarrass the person.
In time, you may be ready to engage in prayer and discussion in classrooms for a few minutes or a whole period if permitted, or engage in walkabouts in various neighbourhoods. Our institutions often send out requests for visitors to come and pray, and businesses often organise workshops and retreats on the subject of prayer. How much of a person of prayer are you? With whom do you pray? Re-commit yourself to God and become more active in the intercessory ministry on a regular basis in a formal or informal way.
- PRAYING AS PARTNERS
There is nothing like having a faithful prayer partner or circle of praying friends to offer support, healing and encouragement. What a blessing it is on difficult days or during extremely hard years to know that there is someone who is crying out to God on our behalf or whispering a quiet prayer throughout the day.
- PRAYING FOR OUR NATION
As chaplain to the House of Assembly, I seek to challenge and encourage all members and the general public who follow the proceedings to pray for our healing as a people, to be open to God’s guidance for wisdom; be persons of integrity and spiritual maturity, and to seek peace and pursue it. The fruit of the spirit is an excellent guideline for examining one’s conscience, along with many other passages in the Bible.
Let us pray for all political, church and civic leaders as they bear the full weight of being decision-makers and role models. It is not an easy task but it can be fulfilling and rewarding if we do it to give God glory and not seek personal praise.
May we all come to discover that a life of prayer produces a bountiful harvest for us as individuals and for all to whom we have the privilege to minister as praying servants.