by Will Peycke
I’m struck by the way the author of Hebrews concludes his letter. Aside from the closing greetings, the last two things he writes in this letter are a request for prayer and an actual prayer.
Hebrews 13:18 begins with the straightforward request, “Pray for us.” Why does he request prayer? Because he expects results: “I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner” (v. 19).
Immediately after asking for prayer for himself, he starts praying for his readers: “Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good that you may do his will” (vv. 20-21).
This prayerful conclusion to the book reminds me of how vital prayer is to the Christian life—and of our tendency to neglect prayer. For example, consider Paul Miller’s observation in the opening chapter of A Praying Life:
We end our conversations with “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” We have a vocabulary of “prayer speak,” including “I’ll lift you up in prayer” and “I’ll remember you in prayer.” Many who use these phrases, including us, never get around to praying. Why? Because we don’t think prayer makes much difference.
We’ve all experienced this. We pray for something and nothing happens; or something does happen, but we wonder if it would have happened anyway. We feel the desire to pray, but when we try to talk to God, it doesn’t go well: we aren’t sure what to say; our mind wanders; it feels like we are talking to ourselves.
On top of these internal challenges, we face a host of external challenges to prayer as well. We live in a world of busyness and noise, of near-constant productivity and entertainment. Miller continues,
American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray. We are so busy that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable. We prize accomplishments, production. But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless, as if we are wasting time. Every bone in our bodies screams, “Get to work.”
There are a whole host of reasons behind our tendency to neglect prayer. And yet, the author of Hebrews was quite confident that prayer does make a difference. He earnestly urges his readers to pray for him, and he prays with conviction for them. His example encourages me to go and do likewise.
Part of our time at next week’s Family Gathering (August 7 at 6p) will be spent praying together. Praying with others adds a whole new layer of challenges! And yet, it offers another layer of encouragement as well.
I encourage you to join with your church family to pray together on August 7. In the meantime, here is a small sampling of ways you can pray for your church family now.
Pray for our families:
- Pray for husbands and wives to love each other faithfully and lead their homes well
- Pray for God to grow great faith and love for him in the hearts of our children and teenagers
- Pray for teenage and adult children who are not following Jesus to return to him
- Pray for our homes to be “kingdom outposts” in our neighborhoods
- Pray for those who are caring for aging parents or family members
Pray for our students:
- Pray for students at all education levels who are anxious about the new school year
- Pray for neighborhood kids to return to Midweek youth and children’s ministry this fall
- Pray for new Purdue students to encounter Jesus through Salt & Light Christian Fellowship
- Pray for SLCF students to be strengthened in their faith and be “salt and light” on campus
- Pray for international students to connect with SLCF and begin to explore Christianity
Pray for our ministry together each Sunday:
- Ask God to help those who are leading and serving: the preacher, teachers, musicians, tech team, greeters, nursery workers, youth and children’s ministry workers
- Ask God to draw newcomers and those who are irregular or hesitant about coming
- Ask God to prepare and transform hearts through his word and his Spirit
- Ask God to help people to love and serve one another
- Ask God for wisdom about where to sit and whom to welcome, listen to, encourage, pray with