Legacy Class Flickr page
This past Friday, February the 10th, Northside Baptist Church was blessed by the Watoto children’s choir. They are a wonderfully talented and delightful group of children led by very caring and equally talented adult mentors. We were truly blessed by their testimonies and their songs of praise. I was taking pictures from my seat and some of them turned out good. However, still images cannot do them justice. One must see them live to really appreciate them. More importantly the work being done at Watoto for these kids and many more like them is worth our support.
About Watoto: Watoto is a holistic care program that was initiated as a response to the overwhelming number of orphaned and vulnerable children and women in Africa. It is positioned to rescue an individual, raise each one as a leader in their chosen sphere of life so that they in turn will rebuild their nation. The Watoto model provides for physical care, medical intervention (including HIV/AIDS treatment), education (formal and vocational), counseling and emotional well-being, moral and spiritual discipleship. (Watoto pamphlet)
About the Watoto Children’s’ Choir: Since 1994, Watoto Children’s Choirs have toured internationally as ambassadors for Watoto. The vision and mission are presented through music and dance, which is an energetic fusion of contemporary gospel and traditional African rhythm. These “Concerts of Hope” are lively demonstrations of the life-changing love of God experienced by the children of Watoto. The experience benefits the children academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually and is designed to train and equip them as future leaders. (Watoto pamphlet)
There are opportunities for us to support the work that Watoto is doing. Please visit their web-site at http://www.watoto.com/home
I don’t do it enough, plain and simple. Sure, I pray before our meals, at least in a family setting. I am pretty good at praying at all the socially prescribed times and places but I don’t pray enough. I will pray when people ask for prayer like when prayer requests are communicated or when we have prayer quilts hanging in the foyer at Church, but that isn’t enough. I am reminded often, convicted really, that any healthy relationship is built on communication. It’s hard to defend the position that a relationship is healthy where there is little communication or where communication is always one way. I must confess that I don’t talk to God enough. My faith is often too introverted or reflective. I enjoy thinking on God and pondering points of theology. I absolutely love Church history and admire men and women of God through the ages from all our various Christian traditions even if I strongly disagree with some of their doctrinal positions or how they expressed their worship. But sometimes I worry that I can ponder too much especially at the expense of prayer.
All that brings up the question what is prayer? Maybe a better question is what are scripturally sound ways that I can pray? And do I pray more than I realize? Certainly the way we were taught is proper. That is kneeling by the bed with eyes closed. We know we can pray either aloud or silently while we are actively doing other things. The Bible also tells us to pray without ceasing which implies that the tried and true bed-side method is not always necessary. But we can’t do that without ceasing, and there are times when what we are doing with our hands requires our full attention.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
In the preface to John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Henry Beveridge translation, I ran across this:
“…Calvin used two phrases to describe the Christian life: that faith is the principle work of the Holy Spirit; that prayer is the principle exercise of faith. All of life was to be lived before God as a prayer – as dialogue with a personal God. Within this life of prayer, in gratitude for the gracious gift of salvation, believers would live orderly, socially redemptive lives. ”
According to this writer one of the reformers saw that we should live our life as a prayer. That seems consistent with 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 which is talking about how we should live and conduct ourselves and how we should encourage and exhort our brothers and sisters as we wait for the return of Christ. I have heard that preached in one way or another from many pulpits and who wouldn’t agree? It helps with the “pray without ceasing” challenge though I am sure smarter people than me will see another way or another meaning. And this living life as a prayer idea did not originate with Calvin and is not unique to protestant Churches. We would find the same attitude among all devout Christians from earliest times. But still, even if I was presumptuous enough to think I live my life as a prayer – I am not presumptuous enough to think my life is a “good” prayer – that doesn’t mean I am off the hook for conscious, deliberate prayer time with God.
I also wonder about thoughts that seem to be prayers, or thinking out specifically how to pray. There have been occasions in my Christian life when I felt led to pray and I would think out how I would pray usually for something in particular. It doesn’t happen often. Sometimes years will pass between this sort of thing, but on some of those occasions what I thought through as a prayer or potential prayer came to pass in startling fashion. I still don’t know if those were truly prayers or if I missed an opportunity to participate in God’s plan by not stopping where I was or pulling to the side of the road, closing my eyes and saying a proper prayer. But on those occasions if I had taken a more active part I am convinced I would have messed it up. It was a creative act but not my creative act. I am convinced those thoughts or prayers were authored by the Holy Spirit.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (NIV)
Romans 8:26 may account for what I describe above except I could have expressed the words if someone would have been transcribing them as they came across. But I believe had I said them out loud I would have messed it up. I would have used different words or decided something else was a better outcome, or something… I believe the Holy Spirit was interceding on my behalf and extended me the honor of getting to listen in.
But still, I don’t pray enough and I am confessing that. How can I claim to love God and have a true relationship with Him if I am not taking time to consciously, intentionally communicate? I am an introvert. I think too much and hold it in. I like to read and work out answers to questions. I love reading the Bible. I love a good discussion or book on Church history, on the “why and what for” of how we wound up with so many differing branches in the Christian family tree. But none of that is a good excuse. I need to set aside books and ponderings, TV and Facebook in favor of real prayer; true communication with God where I reach out to Him, seek His face and shut up for a bit to listen. It’s hard to claim a relationship without it.