Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Standing in the Need of Prayer

When I was a child I briefly misunderstood the chorus of the well-known song "Standing in the Need of Prayer." Since I hadn't grasped the concept of synonyms, I thought the song was about literally standing (as in the opposite of sitting) in the need of prayer. So the times my church happened to sing this song while sitting down left me rather puzzled. It just seemed wrong for people to be belting out "It's me, it's me, it's me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer" while they were snug their pews. What's with the sitting around? I remember thinking. Let's get up!

But, silly misunderstandings aside, I think that there are times that we as Christians actually do seem to be "sitting" in the need of prayer. Instead of sharing our prayer requests with others (or daring to share them beyond our close circle of family members and friends), we sit silently in the corners of our lives, letting our needs be swallowed up by our own timidity, or perhaps even our pride.

I know that I've quietly and sheepishly twiddled my fingers through far too many trials and troubles, figuring that God and I could just work things out in private. I now realize, however, that this approach not only short-changes me in my own spiritual life but also prevents others from partaking in the communal blessing of prayer.

On a recent trip to a restricted country to visit with persecuted Christians, I admired how openly many of the suffering believers asked for prayer. Even when my coworkers and I could spend but a few hours with them, they did not hesitate to bring their needs before us. In fact, the words "Pray for us" were uttered far more often than requests for other forms of assistance, such as material aid or financial support. And not only that, several of the believers also repeatedly emphasized that they were praying for us, as well as prayerfully remembering the whole Canadian Church.

The behaviour of these Christians emphasized the oneness of Christ's body. They truly treated us as brothers and sisters in the Lord by acknowledging the shared assurance we have in Him and showing us that we need not carry our burdens alone, not even as we bring them to our Father. It was a welcome reminder of how pivotal a role prayer has, and must have, in this ministry and in the lives of Christ's followers.

May the Lord enable all those who are still "sitting" in the need of prayer to follow the same path as these believers...and get up!

No comments: