Encouragement From The Word

Praying together when we can’t be together

When our church’s leaders met on Tuesday (electronically, of course), one of them shared a good idea that I want to share with you.

It’s hard for us to pray in each other’s presence right now.  In times of crisis, one of the church’s greatest and most powerful and encouraging tools is corporate prayer.  But we can’t get together to pray in these days.  It’s just not safe.

It’s possible to have online prayer meetings, and they can be valuable.  But we can also pray, on our own, in our homes (or at work, if we are deemed essential services).

The elder I mentioned above shared with me an email from the Yonge Street Mission that expressed ways that the church can pray.  I’m going to adapt its suggestions as ways that we can pray together, even though we are apart:

  • Pray for peace to reign in our communities. In place of panic and fear, ask the Lord to fill our villages, towns and cities with compassion and grace.
  • Pray for people who will be most impacted by service interruptions, such as access to meals, food banks, fellowship groups, and those who cannot connect with community online because they do not use the Internet.
  • Pray for people whose employment is affected by this crisis – those who have lost their jobs permanently or temporarily, those who are deep in debt, as well as those whose work demands have ramped up or become more dangerous because of Coronavirus. Pray especially for those on the front lines of medical care, and those in essential services.
  • Pray for people who struggle with isolation, especially those who live alone and those who depend on regular visits from friends or loved ones.

As you pray, ask the Lord how he can use you to make someone’s situation better, whether through a phone call or an email, leaving a few needed groceries on their front porch, or sending a card of encouragement.

And pray in faith.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.6-7, NLT).

By the way, if you don’t have an online church home in these days, you are welcome to join the online community with St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. on Facebook Live, or for replay anytime on our YouTube channel.

Encouragement From The Word

Cultivating to serve

I know a guy who slipped on some ice not long ago and broke his wrist badly.  And let’s face it:  there’s never a good time to break a bone, but in the middle of winter, when you have a long driveway to shovel, it’s a particularly bad time.

The story is not all about pain, though.  He had to undergo surgery to reset his wrist, and when he came home, casted, he found his driveway had been cleared of snow.

At that point, clearing the driveway was probably the last thing on his mind.  But some of his friends had not forgotten it.

You might be thinking that a neighbour cleared it out for him, which would have been very kind indeed.  But that’s not what happened.

While he was in surgery, one of his university buddies contacted 9 other mutual friends, and the 10 of them pooled a few bucks together and paid to have their friend’s driveway cleared – for the rest of the winter.

Can you imagine?  Having a broken wrist, and not having to worry about shovelling at all until after it’s healed?  It’s a really thoughtful gift.

What’s particularly heartwarming is that in our very insular and individualistic society, there are signs that people still care – and care enough to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

There are many good lessons from this story, one of which is the importance of cultivating strong relationships.  I mean, I can’t think of the names of 10 people I went to university with, let alone be in touch with them in such a way that they would know I was injured and needed help.  You might not be able to, either – but it’s not too late to cultivate strong relationships now.

Think about your circle of acquaintance, both within the church and outside.  How strong is it?  How can you strengthen those relationships – not so that you would get help if you needed it, but so that you could be helpful if it were needed?

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”  We can deepen our relationships so we can serve others.  And who knows?  By serving others, by God’s grace, doors of faith might open.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another” (1 Peter 4.10, NLT).

P.S.:  If you’re interested in integrating your faith and your work, consider coming to St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton for a simulcast retreat called “Work as Worship” on Friday, February 23 from 8:30 to 3:30.  Lunch is provided in the $25 registration cost.  Learn more by clicking here.