Tonight I had hands crawling all up on me, on my back, shoulders, neck, even my head. In any other situation, all these hands touching me would have been at best awkward and at worst down right creepy. But tonight, they were welcomed. Tonight, through the touch of these hands came the pulse of spiritual life.
Just a short while ago I was at a gathering of leaders from our church. As I let myself into the home where we were meeting, I was handed a coke by our host. I greeted those who arrived before I did and we all snacked on chips as we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. Our previous gatherings consisted of strategy and study, but on tonight’s agenda was only one thing – prayer.
As we are about to enter a new year of ministry in our church, each leader was asked to share areas in which they would like prayer for the coming year ahead. After each individual shared their requests the rest of the group gathered around them to pray.
As a pastor I spend a decent amount of time praying. I often get asked to say the prayer before a meal or other spiritual and social settings where prayer is expected. There are times when I schedule an afternoon or even a full day away just to pray. And there are countless situations when I am praying for other people, whether from a distance or in person. But always being on the giving end of prayer can cause you to lose sight of the significance of being on the receiving end.
Tonight I was reminded just how encouraging it is to be prayed for. To have people break the social boundaries of personal space and physically touch you. To have words of encouragement, hope and love spoken over you. For people to present requests to God on your behalf. And to know, some how in that moment, God’s Spirit is at work through those prayers in your life. It’s like stumbling upon a stream of cool water on a hot summer day.
As these hands rested on my shoulders and as words were said, nothing monumental happened. The foundations of the house where we were meeting didn’t shake. We didn’t hear an audible voice from God. But receiving prayer tonight was like receiving an unexpected gift. I knew I was going to be prayed for. I was the one who planned the meeting. But somewhere along the way I had forgotten the significance and power of receiving prayer.
After our gathering ended and we all piled into our cars to return home, I was reminded not to think of myself as a professional prayer, but as one who is equally in need as those I lead.
So next time someone offers to pray for you take it. Don’t let them get away from the moment without doing it on the spot. Allow them to put a hand on your shoulder. Open yourself to God and trust that His Spirit is at work in and through the prayers of His people.