I suffer from church discontent like many people who have been on church staff/leadership teams. Always looking for things that could be better, different, more effective isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve found that it can limit what I see. This morning I sat down to specifically look for the things that are good.
- There are people in our church willing to do unusual things to bless people in the community.
- There are people in our church who literally ache for the Bride of Christ.
- There are people in our church who listen to the Lord, carefully and regularly, and are willing to say so.
- There are people in our church who pray and act.
One example of all of these things coming together is the prayer table ministry. A while back, one couple with a deep love for the people in the neighborhood noticed that the sidewalk in front of our church was a busy place. Wanting to ‘take church to people’ they prayed and responded to the nudge to go out there and simply offer to pray for people – any people – passing by. Soon, other people from the church joined their effort, and sometimes they even took the prayer table to other locations in the neighborhood – troubled places, even – to offer to pray for people right where they were. Whatever their need, no matter their condition, no matter what.
The prayer table ministry has continued on. Each week a summary of the team and location, along with the prayed-for people’s names and concerns goes out to the church email list for intercessors, and the prayers that started then and there for them continues among the people of the church. Here’s today’s list:
Torre Bissell, Dn. Alan Hart, 9:30 to 10:30 AM, in front of Christ Church on State St
(+ indicates received a cross). Warmer but windy on the street this morning.
+Wilber — “that I will have a kind soul and a good heart”
+James — “anything”
+Sherry — “me and my husband to talk with one another without being afraid”, “that Child Protection Services will see that Eddy has changed”, “pray for the children to see each other in new ways” +Sharon (her daughter was with her)
+Kaif — “everything”, he renewed his commitment to Jesus.
+Kamal — “health”
+David — “Constitutional rights for American citizens”, “my health”
+Minnie — crossed the street to come for prayer, but wasn’t sure she should have prayer: “I’ve got drugs and paraphernalia on me right now.” We assured her that she could and should have prayer. After prayer she said, “Thank you; God bless you.” When we gave her a cross she said, “Do you think I should wear this cross now?” We said, “Yes.”
+Deralle (and +Niger, his nephew crossed the street for prayer) — “everything” prayed for his protection
+Milton — for God’s blessing on his work at St. Clare’s Hospital
+Sharon — “for survival, honey”, “for salvation” She confessed her sins to Jesus and accepted his forgiveness.
+Sid — “I need a job desperately. I’ve sinned. I’ve confessed my sins to Jesus.”
+Donna — “just being able to take care of my family.”
Frequently these lists cause me to weep for these folks, for the neighborhood, and for the church. Few of these people will ever come into our (or any) church building, though some have – more likely for the Alpha Center or the Neighborhood Meal than for a worship service. There is so much need, and so much suspicion about “the church” and what it’s true purpose is, who it truly exists for, and so much more. But I know that these folks – both the prayer team and the folks they meet – encounter Jesus right where they are. It’s not fancy, and it won’t make for a new best-selling church practice book, but it does fit with an old one beautifully.