What does praying look like on the journey? At various meetings, with students and other campus ministers, I hear the common refrain of needing and wanting to pray more – and of desiring prayer to be more than yet another task to check off that daily list.
Personally, at times I use prayer as a crutch to get through the day. Or, more often, I forget about it. I will get around to it when work is done and I have time. When I talk with students about prayer I point to the ideal in the Bible, in books – but also share my own failings in this area. That used to be where I left it.
Then last year, in my own desire for more consistent prayer, I asked three graduate students to join me each week for 30 minutes to gather on campus, look at God’s Word, and pray. Nothing over-planned, just time out of our regular schedules to spend time with God.
I’ll admit that I”m not always into praying when noon on Tuesdays comes around. I could be finishing a work project or reading. But the time is set aside, so I go, never knowing what to expect. I’m surprised at how long this has continued – even through the summer.
This week we spent time looking at Paul’s two verses of greeting to the Ephesians. We noticed the number of times Jesus Christ was mentioned in this one sentence, the encouragement he gave the Ephesians by calling them faithful, and the extension of God’s grace and peace to this young church. This grace is that of God. Yet, through the very act of sending the letter Paul is also expressing a grace.
Wow. In the midst of UC’s food court God’s Word was coming alive – and this led into prayer as we each longed for God’s grace to work through us in the relationships we have at work, with friends, and with God.
In this group, God’s Word meets us where we are each day, in the midst of life. We take time to pray for ourselves and the needs we have. But we also take time to pray outside, to pray for the campus, and even to be quiet.
I’m now wondering how we can increase the space for prayer. Do we invite more people, start more groups? Perhaps make prayer a more natural part of gatherings – not something only a ‘qualified’ leader can guide. Or that only people comfortable praying in a group can do.
What I don’t want to do is turn this into another program, but instead build a community of pray-ers steeped in God’s Word in the world. It’s time to pray . . .