I am not a sports fan. I enjoy watching my favorite college team play football. I enjoy watching an occasional volleyball game. I had a few friends that played baseball, tennis, and golf…three sports I might try to play once in a great while, but none I would watch on TV. I have noticed three people who are often disregarded in each of those games, the caddy, the ball boy, and the bat boy. Unless you are at an actual event, you will likely never see them on the TV screen. The ball boy races out to grab tennis balls, either having fallen short or out of play. The bat boy, likewise, races onto the baseball field to grab the bat once a pitch has been hit. And the caddy, as most of us know, chooses and replaces clubs, allowing the player to focus on their task. If they were absent, a tennis player would have to stop, pick up the ball rolling around, the next batter would have to pick up the bat, and the golfer would have to sort through a lot of equipment just to play a single hole. Each of these people keep the game going.
Prayer is often viewed as a “throw away” task for the Church. If a person can’t preach, teach, cook, clean, deal with children or youth, or make decisions for the masses… they can always pray. The truth is that if the pastor doesn’t pray, the sermon is worthless. If the teacher doesn’t pray, the lesson will not inspire nor inform. If the children’s or youth leader doesn’t pray, they will likely not stay with it long and the children and youth will wander, spiritually as well as physically and mentally. And every other role is just as dependent upon prayer, if not on their own prayers, because the prayers of others are supporting them when they forget or become overwhelmed. Prayer keeps the Church going.
Paul sums up prayer in two sentences in Ephesians 6:18. Pray on ALL occasions, IN the Spirit, STAY alert, and do it for ALL people. Praying when we are full is just as important as when we are empty. Praying is more than just saying words, it contains real power when we invite the Holy Spirit to be part of every request we make, discerning what is truly needed. We must also remain ever aware of what is going on so that we may be ready to respond in faith whenever needed. The last part is the most important… we must pray for all people. When one part of your body is sore, weak, or strained, it affects other parts. The healing prayer we are encouraged to offer in James 5:1-14 for the sick has the same root as the encouragement to pray for others in general. As you approach the New Year, let prayer be the center of every part of your faith journey and receive the power that is given by the Spirit.
Do I view prayer as a last resort for aid or a first thought for anything I do?
How can I make praying for others more of a priority in my daily actions?