Most Sundays, I travel around to churches within the Presbytery of Detroit and lead worship, filling in for pastors who are away on vacation or study leave. I love the opportunity to make connections with a variety of congregations in Southeast Michigan.
As is often typical, before worship begins, I usually find the other worship leaders for the day, and we connect before the service. They often ask me to lead a prayer before we begin. But First Presbyterian Church in Howell, Michigan has a different rhythm. Often, a member of the congregation will come find me. Then, that person will offer a prayer for me.
This is a very intentional rhythm on their part. In fact, there is a whole ministry team that signs up weekly to pray for the pastor in this way. It’s very touching because these individuals do more than offer prayers for the worship leadership of the day. They offer prayers for what’s happening in our lives — any particular joys or concerns we might be carrying.
When I drove to Howell yesterday, I found myself anticipating this. And pondering a few particular situations, I decided I would ask for this leader to pray for a few of my loved ones.
I’m glad I did this. Before the service, I was greeted by the person who organizes this prayer ministry. He was very kind and asked if there were any particular requests I had for prayer. I shared with him some needs happening in others’ lives – particular concerns to which I also feel connected. And this new friend prayed the most beautiful prayer for people I love.
And not only that. Going the extra mile, at his initiative, he placed a piece of paper in his pocket with their names written down, so he can keep praying for them throughout the week.
This entire experience invited me to make some connections between prayer and story. When we pray, we voice words toward God, and in the process, we enter deeper connections with one another. As we do so, we undoubtedly we enter each other’s stories. We accompany one another in these stories.
My praying friend stepped into ongoing stories of people I love. He offered his presence and added to these stories in some meaningful way. Afterward, I told one of these loved ones about the experience, and he reminded me that prayer is a way of giving love. He mentioned that this particular prayer made him feel more loved.
And that certainly impacts the story, doesn’t it?