The sun was still low over the Niagara River as we found comfortable chairs in the family’s prayer room and introduced ourselves to each other. We were visiting friends in Niagara Falls and they invited us to join them for the early morning prayer meeting in their home. They wanted to pray for us and our ministries.
As I looked around the room, I saw that we were a microcosm of what the Church is. The focus of many prayers, were Glen and me. Lifelong Salvationists, we are working in interdenominational NGOs. Folks coming from Anglican roots, a former Sikh, a Lutheran and a couple of nondenominational charismatics lifted up prayers for us. As we closed our eyes and joined in intercession not only for the work that we are doing, but also for the things God is doing throughout the world, we sensed a unity that comes when hearts are joined together by one Spirit.
For an hour and a half, we opened our hearts to one another as we opened them before our Heavenly Father. We expressed the joy we sensed at being part of something much bigger than ourselves that was taking place today, even as we prayed. All around the globe people were meeting, had met, or were preparing to meet in worship. As we met together, we offered thanks that we were a part of this much larger entity, those who share our common faith. I thought of the words of the old hymn we sang when I was a child, that says, “the voice of prayer is never silent, nor fades the strain of praise away.”
Our thoughts turned to the needs of the world that often boil down to issues of social justice. We prayed for those who often suffer through no fault of their own. We were conscious so many of these concerns that often weigh heavily on our hearts are complex. There are no easy solutions, yet our diversity enabled us to address various elements of the problems in our prayers. One after another prayed, interceding for those in political leadership, for those who seek to offer help and encouragement by offering their skills and assistance, and for those who in their own culture claim to follow Christ- that they might live out their convictions with the power of the love of Christ as their hallmark.
As prayers continued the thoughts lifted up reflected the perspectives of the various individuals around the circle: film maker, architect, doctor, retiree, CEO and director of philanthropy. Each was able to formulate their petitions about particular needs in the developing world from their own perspective and in so doing; we created a mosaic of petitions, expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving.
Authority was added to this mélange of prayers by interspersed selections of Scriptures that were prayed back to the one who inspired the words. A thought would come forth from the mouth of one person and as they paused for breath would be picked up and expanded upon by the voice of another. A sense of being coordinated parts of a unique organism emerged.
The predominant theme of our intercession became the desire for wisdom to be good stewards of the resources that have been entrusted to us. Our tasks are daunting, yet to have access to divine wisdom gives us courage to dare to move forward.
As we concluded, we were aware that a new identity had emerged for us. A roomful of strangers were cognizant of being members of the same family, able to support and encourage one another to take the risks of following Christ, in our everyday lives.
By the time I met with our host’s congregation for worship at their church service, I was already in a place where I was able to listen to what the Lord had to say to me in my inner sanctuary. Time spent together in intercession readied me to listen. As one of my new found brothers said to me, “How we listen to others, is a reflection of how we listen to God.” Listening attentively to these members of my family in prayer, equipped me to listen to the Spirit as I gathered with others in corporate worship.