This has been a full and wonderful day. It was Homecoming Sunday which was an occasion for extended families and friends to share in worship at Compton Heights Christian Church (DOC). I was especially aware of the warmth and the depth of faith in the congregation this morning. Usually our Prayers of the People is a cross between a traditional pastoral prayer and communal intercessory prayer. I pray and then come to a time when I open the prayers to the congregation to pray aloud as they choose. Each spoken prayer concludes with “God who is Mercy — Hear our Prayer.”
Today, however, we invited the congregation to enter into prayer in four different ways. I opened the prayer time, then we sang a simple prayerful verse about 3 times through. Following that we entered into a time when the those in the congregation could a) remain thier seats and pray quietly, b) write their prayers on a small card and bring them forward to the communion table (or keep them if they chose), c) come to one of the pastors to be anointed with oil and to pray, and/or d) speak their prayer aloud.
As expected the time began with everyone quiet and still. Then the sanctuary seemed to come alive with prayer. Some were writing, others sat in quiet. Slowly some began to move toward Jenn and me to be anointed and to pray with us for their particular concerns. A couple of people stepped up to the microphone in the center to speak prayers aloud. Those who were writing came up to the table to lay their prayers there next to the Christ Candle and in the midst of the communion trays. Some moved from speaking prayer aloud, or placing a written prayer on the table to be anointed. Several times I began to move toward conclusion and saw someone else moving to come forward.
I can only describe the movement and the presence in the sanctuary as prayerful. To me it was a holy time. Responses have come from a couple of people in the congregation who appreciated the opportunity for us to prayer as a community in this way. I will be interested to hear from others.
An enduring question for me is how we invite people into true prayer – both in the context of worship and through the dailiness of our lives. I appreciate this congregation’s depth of faith and willingness to explore prayer together.