We have little visitor’s cards in the backs of our pews at church just like every other church that has pews. They aren’t anything special – just a place for us to help collect some contact info from folks who visit so that we can follow up with them. On the back side of these visitor’s cards is a side where people can write a prayer request, drop the card in the offering plate, and have the elders pray for what is written later that week. People write on these cards what is on their hearts. Little children ask for prayer for a sick teacher or sibling. Someone has a major surgery coming up. Someone else is recovering surgery. Someone has a loved one who is fighting cancer or battling some kind of intractable pain. There are lots of hurting people out there, and their hurts and pains and struggles show up on these cards. But recently I’ve been getting a congregation member who is asking for prayer for a different kind of battle. And it has upset my prayers in the best possible way. Here is this saint’s three most recent prayer requests (shared with permission):
What a humbling thing to have a congregation member asking for focused prayer that gives thanks for the fact that “the grave and death are conquered“, prayer for “those who feel without hope” and “those lost in substance abuse“, and prayer “for the fulfillment of His promises.” What a privilege to be joining with this dear woman at the throne of grace for such things.
Yes, of course, we should always be praying for these things. But how many times does our “should” and “do” look very different? Someone once told me that we often speak of “making something a priority”, but at the end of the day, a priority is what we actually do. So the content of the prayers we actually pray reveal what we have prioritized. It reveals what we deem important. If I lose my job, you can bet I’ll be fervent in prayer for the Lord to provide a new one. If I lose my health, God is going to be hearing from me about restoring me to health. Health, provision, safety, good relationships… these are important to us, so that’s where we camp out in our prayers.
But every once in a while, something rises to the surface that causes us to lift our heads and see the broader world that holy scripture lays before us to be used as content in our prayers. For me, that something happens when this dear congregation member writes a prayer request card. And if there’s at least one saint at Pilgrim Presbyterian Church in the small town of Martinsburg, West Virginia praying this way, how many other saints are out there in your churches, casting these cares upon the throne of grace? How many other saints are out there asking for others to join with them in giving thanks for the resurrection of Jesus? How many fervent petitioners are laying siege to the gates of hell that the captives to depair and addiction might be released? How many other Christians in our churches are pleading with the Father to fulfill His promise to cause the earth to be “…filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2.14)”?
How many of you when reading this feel like me when I get one of those prayer request cards? Kind of makes you want to get in on this kind of praying, doesn’t it?