Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Reflection on John 17:16-19

Her mom had left her long ago. But, what she found in the box moved her.

First, you must understand that she was 16 when she heard the knock on the door. When she opened it, it was a police officer. He asked if her father was at home. As the officer talked with her father, and as she sat on the stairs waiting, she overheard the words that would change her life forever. “I’m sorry, but she died in the accident.”

But, her mother’s death was long ago. She had moved on in life long ago.

She had graduated college. She had gotten married, she had raised two kids, and now she was going through old boxes in order to make room for a playroom for the grandchildren.

She had not anticipated stumbling across the letter that her mother sent her while at summer camp when she was 12 years old. She had not anticipated that reading it would bring such strong emotions. She had not anticipated reading the words, “I am praying for you, my strong little girl. I will always pray for you.”

“Even still?” she wondered. After all these years, did her mother still pray for her from heaven? She had often prayed for peace and eternal joy for her mother in heaven, but it had never struck her that the prayers might be happening the other way around…until she was reminded of the promise in the letter. "I will always pray for you."

It had never struck her before that she might need her mother’s prayers. But, she did. She needed those prayers. Even after all these years, she needed her mother’s love.

That is what prayer is after-all: an act of love. During his last days, Jesus prayed for the ones he loved. He gave thanks for their devotion to him and his ministry. He prayed for their protection as the days ahead would be nearly impossible as they experienced sights of hatred, torture, and crosses. Jesus gave thanks that they were not lost from him. And, he prayed that through it all they might find joy.

Jesus prays for his people. Jesus loves his people. Jesus prays for us. Jesus loves us. Prayer is an act of love.

I wonder if that is why Jesus once asked his followers to pray for their enemies? Enemies, after-all, are not commonly prayed for. Enemies, by definition, are not loved. But, if you care enough to pray for them, then maybe you will care enough to love them.

A divided world could use a little more prayer for one another. A divided world could use a little more love. Prayer is an act of love after-all.

We could all use a little more love. We could all use a little more prayer. What do you hope that someone would pray about on your behalf. What in your life needs prayer? What weighs on your mind that could be relieved a little by unloading it through prayer?

Go ahead and actually think about it, then write it down. Now, here is the potential hard part, though it should not be. Hand your request for prayer off to someone else in the faith. Maybe, send it as an email.

I have to tell you that there is something powerful, that I cannot quite put my finger on, in knowing that someone is praying for you. There is something powerful in knowing that someone actually takes the time to interweave the fingers of their hands on your behalf. In prayer, you are not forgotten. You and your joys and your struggles are known by someone else in the same way that you and your concerns are known fully by God. You are not alone. There is something powerful in that message.

One day while we ("we" being seminary students, preparing to be pastors) were sitting in class, just out of the blue one of my classmates had an epiphany. Out of the blue, interrupting the lecture from our seminary professor, the student blurted out, “Did you ever consider that some congregation somewhere is praying that we might come? Did you ever consider that somewhere people are gathered together and praying for our learning and our willingness to serve? We have been held in prayer the whole time!”

The seminary professor, undisturbed by the epiphany that disrupted her class, responded, “That is very true. There are many people praying for you. And, did you ever consider that a professor might be praying every night for your learning? Did you ever consider that Jesus prays every moment for you?”

I think we underestimate the power of prayer. Through prayer, Jesus reminds the lonely that they are not forgotten. Through prayer, joys are shared and that joy spreads from one person to another. Through prayer, enemies are turned into friends. Through prayer, the faithful are united into one voice…one people.

To pray is to be one with the author of love, Jesus Christ. To pray is to love.

So, go ahead and follow the lead of Jesus and take the time right now to pray for someone...anyone. If you are brave, pray for an enemy. In doing so, you will be acting out of the love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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