This past Sunday was the first Sunday of November. Our church like a number of churches across our nation celebrated the Lord’s Supper as part of our morning worship. Our church has had a long standing tradition of forming a circle at the conclusion of the communion service, holding hands while singing together.
One part of our church's long standing tradition includes the writing down of your name on a little slip of paper with the admonition, “Pray for each other.” As a matter of fact our little slip of paper says, “Write your name below and place it in the offering. After communion we will exchange prayer slips. Please pray for the following person this month: _____________.
Then as we are singing in our circle the offering bags are passed around and each person draws out one name. The idea is that we are encouraged to pray for that name which we have just drawn, each day during the month of November.
I am looking at the name I just drew and have prayed for him. However this has caused me to think of the following things:
Robert Murray M’Cheyne once wrote, “A man is what he is on his knees before God, and nothing more.”
When Martin Luther's puppy happened to be at the table, he looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes. Luther said, "Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope."
Edward Payson (1783-1827) said:
“We may judge the state of our hearts by the earnestness of our prayers. You cannot make a rich man beg like a poor man; you cannot make a man that is full cry for food like one that is hungry: no more will a man who has a good opinion of himself, cry for mercy like one who feels that he is poor and needy.
The symptoms of spiritual decline are like those which attend the decay of bodily health. It generally commences with loss of appetite, and disrelish for spiritual food, prayer, reading the Scriptures, and devotional books. Whenever you perceive these symptoms, be alarmed, for your spiritual health is in danger; apply immediately to the great Physician for a cure.
The best means of keeping near to God is the prayer closet. Here the battle is won or lost.
It appears very strange and wonderful that God should bestow any favors on creatures, so unworthy as ourselves, or pay any regard to prayers so polluted as our own.”
As I pray for the person named on my little slip that I drew this past Sunday, I hope that I pray for him not merely perfunctorily, but from a heart that is true. I hope that as I pray for him that my eyes are on my Lord with as much concentration as Luther’s puppy displayed, always watching the Lord.