I preach at two services. Each service is at a different church. Only a few miles apart. One service is at 9am and the other service is at a 11am.
One service has about 40-60 folks and the other sometimes has over a 100 people.
Each service is pretty much the same. One has an organ. The other doesn’t. There’s a guitar and a piano. Both have similar music. The scriptures are the same. One has a prayer of confession. The other doesn’t. The sermon is pretty much the same and there is a time for the kids to come up front and hear a kids message before they go to Sunday school at both churches.
The highlight of the morning for me and I know for others is that both churches have a time where people share prayer requests and praise reports. It’s part of the DNA of the worship service. It’s right after the sermon and the offering. It acts as a response to the sermon for the morning. For many, it’s just as important as the sermon and worship music.
Sometimes it’s even more important than the sermon. People would even by happy if I on occasion would preach a shorter sermon as to allow for more time to share prayers of praise and concern. It’s not a bad thing to think this. It’s actually something that could be a good thing when it comes to being in community together as the church. It shows the people in attendance that they matter and that they’re heart felt prayers matter to us and matter to God and why would we not allow someone to share something that they need prayer for?
When a person shares a prayer out loud, here’s what I say: “This is our prayer to the Lord.” The people present say, “Lord hear our prayers.” It’s routine. It’s something I could never cut from the order of worship. If I ever had to cut something from the worship service, it would have to be something else except the prayer time.
If I did cut the prayer time, I’d probably be publicly thumped on the head.
I’ve heard many prayer requests over the last several years. We’ve often stopped in the middle of the prayer time to actually pray for someone and to lay hands on them. We’ve had kids share. We’ve had young adults share. We’ve had older folks share. I’ve heard about broken relationships, prayers needed for healing, and kids asking the church to pray for a sick parent or grandparent. I’ve heard it all. I’ve even heard folks share about loved ones dying and the grief that comes with loss. I’ve had kids ask us to pray for their parents who are divorced. I’ve had kids even pray for parents that have passed away because of sickness. I’ve even most recently had some really cool parents pray for the safety of their kid who serves in the military and for God’s protection for their kid and their kids colleagues. We’ve even recently heard that their kid is coming home soon. Indeed answered prayer.
Today at the 11am service at the other church I noticed a mom get up and leave during the service. I didn’t pay any attention to it until the prayer time. When I gradually moved down the middle aisle of the sanctuary to take prayer requests, I noticed a hand of a mom and the prayer request was for her daughters son. Her daughter was the one who got up and walked out and came back in while we were taking prayer requests. She had just found out that her son was being deployed within a few hours. In tears she shares her prayer request.
A mom sharing a prayer request for her son and for her sons wife as he begins the process of being deployed to serve his country. Today I wanted to sob like a baby. I wanted so much to pray aloud, “Lord, please, not today. Please allow for her son not to be deployed.” Of course I didn’t. We prayed for her son by name. She reminded me to pray for his wife. We also said we need to pray for peace in that part of the world. I said, “This is our prayer to the Lord.”
The people said loudly, “Lord hear our prayers.”