Praying for ______?
There's a story of Jesus in Matthew about a sower sowing seeds. Some fall on hardened ground, others on thin rocky soil, some among the briars and thorns, and some on good soil. Then, he says don't worry about where it falls. Just keep sowing. What lands and grows will provide more than enough for everyone!
I think of prayers like seeds.
At this church, prayers come to the church in so many ways. Some send email prayers. Some write them in the prayer book on Sunday morning. Some are spoken out loud during worship. Some are written on the tear-off and put in the offering. Some are emailed to me or Caitlan directly. Some are put in my or Caitlan's hand in the narthex. Some are spoken to a friend and then passed along secondhand. Some just whisper something to us in passing.
These prayers are like seeds. They are sown. Some are prayed over by a few people, but nothing seems to change or happen. Some get a decent response in the first few days, then fade back to quiet. Some seem to be competing with others for attention, time, or resources. And last, some get a beautiful full response that yields healing and growth.
Is this okay? Shouldn't EVERY prayer get EQUAL time, attention, and response and have EQUAL results? If EVERY prayer isn't heard and responded to equally by the church, by the pastors, and by GOD, doesn't that mean we aren't being loving, or are showing favoritism?
I hope not. I had to learn long ago, there's no way for me to personally respond to every prayer request sufficiently. There's no way for this church with all its Deacons and loving members and friends to fully respond to every prayer request fully. And for some reason, even God doesn't seem to respond equally.
So then, is prayer worth it?
Yes. Somehow, in the grand scheme, we throw prayers abundantly and they fall where they may. We respond to prayers as we can, and we trust it is enough. Even while we sleep, the ground will grow a seed into a stalk and into abundance, and we had nothing to do with that. God is doing things with our prayers we cannot sense or measure. Our role and response is a part of God's effort. But in the end, God will provide abundance and we will all benefit from what God is doing and growing.
Today, offer your prayers. Share them widely and abundantly. Tell others what you need and seek and hunger for. Then scan the prayers of others. Pick one or two to respond to in some meaningful way. Last, look at the others, and trust God and God's people are responding to them in hope and faith.
Blessings, Laughter, and Loving be yours,
Rev. Joel L. Tolbert