"What you must do, is this. ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.’ I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions."
It’s cold. It’s slush and dark outside – it’s at a bad time, but you put on your coat and drive to join with other saints. Other saints, who are doing well, are struggling, are full of good advice, some are lonely…whatever the case. And here together you pray.
We know it in fact. "…The most normal thing in the common Christian life (is) to pray together." But if you were to say that prayer meeting on a Wednesday night is hard – no one would disagree.
In the requests, you are reminded of the wounds and losses. You remember the widow who fights new battles every day. You remember the imperfections and messiness of relationships. And when you pray, you are brought a little lower in your nervousness and stumbling – sometimes through the distractions of your mind. Prayer meeting is work – a discipline, and it sometimes feels like the prevention rather than the cure. The motion of duty rather than the heart’s desire.
After all, who hasn’t felt like Moses with his arms propped up on either side by Aaron and Hur? Sometimes we grow weary in battle. Weary in worship.
Then, as your heart cracks open a little more, you hear other requests. The ones that make you nod your head with a leaping up within. Oh yes, that is true. The six-year-old asks prayer and mercy for his father’s boss. You give thanks for a baby born too soon, but growing stronger. And when you pray, a little girl asks in one sentence, "Keep my uncle safe." The bottom of your pride drops out, and the big words you speak seem less important. Bonhoeffer says, "How could one person pray the prayer of the fellowship without being steadied and upheld in prayer by the fellowship itself." You take courage and lean on the others as you pray for God’s will, and best of all, for His glory. As the prayers are lifted, hesitant, stuttered, sometimes obscure behind pat phrases – you unite as cracked vessels.
It’s through those cracks that the beauty pours out…and here is where the prayer meeting does its best work. For as you pray together, He gives Grace and you realize anew that He makes this possible. He gives the answers we seek. He gives us this precious gift of community where we share the goodness of Him. He lifts the burdens as we soldier on.
In every way, it’s the inability to ‘be all the way capable of so much’ that strikes you when you gather to pray. Hallelujah that it does – for in your weakness as a prayer meeting, the Lord who reigns is strong.