Last Sunday night I participated in the City-wide Prayer Summit. It was a wonderful gathering of over 10 churches meeting to worship and pray together. It was fun to be a part of something that spanned several denominations. One of the components of the evening was a time of prayer for the pastors who were there. The facilitator asked us to stand and those seated around us prayed for us.
As I was being prayed for, a couple thoughts went through my head. The first one was how much I appreciate having someone else lift me up to Jesus. The second thought was how humbling it is to have someone else lift me up to Jesus.
Before you think I’m really confused, let me explain. Receiving prayer is one of the most powerful blessings a person can receive. There is a sense where one can simply relax, stop striving, struggling, and allow the prayers of others to lift you to the throne. It’s also a wonderful affirmation of personhood—that I exist and am worthy of someone’s time and attention (and of God’s care).
At the same time, being prayed for is also difficult. Thoughts about others who are more worthy and who need prayer more badly than I do flow through my head. I’m not in control when others are praying and if I’m honest, I want to be in control.
What is it about us as human beings (or is it North Americans?) that makes it difficult to receive things from another person? Is it because we’ve been taught at an early age to stand on our own, to rely on no one but ourselves (or maybe our family), and that we shouldn’t be a “bother” to anyone?
Recently, I heard about a church member who had been in the hospital for a number of days. Their condition had been fairly serious, but they had refused to let anyone at the church know. Their reason? “I didn’t want to bother anyone.”
I know we all think that people are too busy and unfortunately pastors can also perpetuate that story by rushing here and there, filling our calendars with back to back appointments. It reinforces the illusion that someone in need of prayer is simply a bother.
I want to let you know that I don’t want to live with this philosophy. I want to be a pastor who has time for you, who is willing to come and pray just like I was prayed for last Sunday. I want to be known as a pastor who prays and is willing to give and receive prayer.
Pastor Rick Bartlett