Monday, August 25, 2014

Overlapping prayers and stress relief

Through the years, Sunday mornings have often been stressful. If a shoe is going to go missing, or an IT problem is going to arise on a necessary piece of equipment, or an animal is going to act up, it’s going to be on a Sunday morning.

We once had a Bassett Hound that got stuck under a utility building on a Sabbath morning. As we worked to free her, I can still hear my pastor husband, Jerry, saying repeatedly, “This dog is working with the devil. This dog is working with the devil.”

At the time, it seemed a definite possibility.

Jerry, is now the pastor of a church in a rural area. On Sundays, If we can ever get in the car and travel beyond the more densely populated area of a university town, we almost always feel stress diminishing as we start to enjoy the scenery of horse farms, grazing cows, and crops in the field. In fact, we rarely speak on our route as we listen to music and take in the beauty around us.

Often, I see horses in this field.



These cows didn’t cooperate as I’d hoped for this photo. I usually catch them in a pasture much closer to the road.





The cotton field across the road from the church.


 The church is still small enough, that during the prayer time, Jerry gives us an opportunity to briefly speak a name or request aloud to the Lord. As worshippers lift their requests, I strain to hear what’s being spoken, but often I can’t, because several people may simultaneously speak theirs.

When we first started this practice, it bothered me that the requests overlapped. I wanted them to be spoken one at a time so that I could clearly understand, but then I realized it doesn’t matter to God.

Even if all of us in the service said our requests at the same time, God would hear each one.

What happens in our worship service is but a microcosm of what’s happening all over the world. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, God’s children are offering their prayers. Those prayers overlap many times over, but God is so great that He hears each one as if there were only one.

Knowing that ought to be the biggest stress reliever of all.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer . . .” (1 Peter 3:12).

“Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me”(Psalm 86:6-7).

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