On the first Sunday of each month, the church does prayer cards. During worship, we receive a card. We write our name on the card. We give the card back. We receive another card. Then, on the card is two names – first is a person on the prayer list. This person is someone who is in the military, in a nursing home or assisted living facility, homebound, or ill. The church has been asked to pray for this individual.
The second name on the card is the name of whoever in the congregation received the card first and wrote his/her name on it. The church has not officially added this person to the prayer list but is nonetheless in need of prayer. We all are in need of prayer. This practice of distributing prayer cards acknowledges that whether we are on the prayer list or not we all need to be prayed for.
Isn’t it great to know that someone is praying for us. I’m sure more people are praying for you than just the person who received your name on the prayer card. Still, it is comforting to know that at least one person is praying for us. It doesn’t matter if s/he knows what you are being held in prayer for – God knows!
That’s what I find most befuddling about prayer. God knows what each of us needs. God knows what we are going to ask for. God knows what we need before we need it.
In Romans 8: 24 – 27, Paul writes: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
Paul tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us when we cannot express our joys or concerns, our desires or complaints. Prayer is not about asking for something-it is turning to God who is our source of everything. Both Paul and Edward Farrell would agree that prayer is our response to the Divine Presence that is in, with, and through all things.
Edward Farrell in Gathering the Fragments wrote: “Christian prayer is always a response to a presence already felt. The awareness of a desire to pray again is already prayer. As the desert fathers so often said, “If you want to pray, you are already praying.”
We pray, not to change God’s mind; we pray that we might be changed by the knowledge that we are in the presence of God. We are changed as we are reminded that with love God created us, by grace God redeemed us, with compassion God sustains us. In the prayers we express, we give over all our joys and concerns knowing that God is the One whom we can rely on and trust. God is gonna do what God is gonna do – prayer reminds us that God is the One who is already at work…on our behalf and the ones we pray for.
In the name of Jesus, I pray,