Sunday, June 02, 2013

Sunday prayer-rolling

Here I sit at Alton Baptist Church, thinking back on my ride this morning from the neighborhood I live you. This is the neighborhood where I grew up for a few years of my life and I always enjoy coming back here.

I left a little early this morning with the purpose in my heart. I thought I might pray for each church as I passed by along the way. I drove slowly, making Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11 and Numbers 6:24-26 the core of my prayers, adding to those this simple prayer: "Lord, lead those folks to walk in humility before you, and to worship you from a free and true heart, and to love one another as Jesus loves us."

I had to slow down a couple times, because I really wanted to pray that over each congregation the buildings represent. At one point, I drove behind a elderly woman, driving so slow it could have been called stopping more than going. Usually, my heart struggles to ride behind a driver like this. But, not today. Not even close. I imagined she was praying, too. I followed her for several miles and turns, till she turned into a church's parking lot.

I kept riding; rolling and praying.

A calm; a peace-filled balm began to dominate my heart, and compassion began to well up in me. What began as an exercise of my mind became an exercise of my heart, as I strained to worship God and love the Body of Christ in this tangible, needed act of prayer.

The first church I passed by was New Life Independent Baptist Church. Then I passed by Roxboro Church of Christ and immediately after that Warren's Grove United Methodist Church. On the edge of town, I passed by Westwood Baptist Church and then, a few miles later, Stories Creek Primitive Baptist Church; a couple miles later,  Theresa Baptist Church. Several miles went by and a couple changes of roads, but the next churches I saw where Bailey's Chapel AME and Mt. Pisgah AME churches. In between those two were Hyco River and the Virginia / North Carolina state line. As I turned onto Harmony Road, immediately passed by Harmony United Methodist Church, and then a couple miles down to where I sit as I type this in my car.

I also saw people mowing their grass, getting ready to go to the lake, swimming in their pool, riding horses and doing a host of other things, including playing golf and simply sitting on the porch. I saw a very cool convertible car with two smiling people, happily riding together in the sun; they looked relaxed and happy.

Sometimes, on my way to church, being the Scribed-up Pharisee my-honest-heart hates to confess I can be, I imagine such people are doing so many unnecessary things, and that they ought to be in church. In other words, I judge them. I act as if I know their life schedules -- maybe they already went to an early service; maybe their church meets at 6:00 PM, like the one I'm a part of; maybe this or that ... doesn't matter ... I shouldn't judge -- I act as if I know what they ought to be doing every part of their Sunday.

Something shifted in me... I began to pray the same prayer for folks that caught my attention that I was already praying for local churches.

Maybe this is much better. Yeah, I'm sure it is.

As my friend's song says, "God is working on my heart..."

*Scripture referenced above:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21, ESV)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filledwith the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11, ESV)
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.(Numbers 6:24-26, ESV)

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