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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who Are You Praying For?

         Halloween has its roots in the Christian observances of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These are Holy Days observed by many churches, but originating in the early Catholic Church. All Saints Day, also known All Hallows Day, hence the day before known as All Hallows Eve or Hallow' een, and All Souls Day are days devoted to the honoring of and the prayer for those who have departed from this life, saints and sinners.  After the break from the Roman Catholic Church, many Protestants began observing October 31 as Reformation Day, which is a day of remembrance and prayers for unity.  For many Christians prayer is one of the main activities of this time of year.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:17-19

         When Paul instructed the followers of Jesus Christ to "pray for the saints" he was most probably telling them to pray for all fellow believers, those in their own church as well as those in churches throughout the world.  Here Paul also tells Christians to pray without ceasing-- to be in prayerful attitude with all kinds of requests. Do you pray?  For whom do you pray?

            Have you ever told somebody or had someone say to you, "I'll keep you in my prayers."   This seems to be the most comforting response we can often come up with in a difficult situation.  Sometimes it's just too hard to completely understand what another grieving or troubled person is going through so we try to show empathy by telling them we will pray for them.  Then later do we?  At times I have found myself saying this to someone and then realizing later that I had forgotten to pray for them.  Or did I?  Is it enough to think the action at the moment that it is said so that it becomes part of later prayers that are more generic and all-encompassing?

          I certainly ask God to answer prayers concerning my needs, but I regularly pray for my family, my friends, and my church.  Many people may find different things for which to pray--- our community, our country, our politcal leaders, our soldiers.  Some people pray more broadly for things like world peace, aid to peoples facing calamity, a cure for a disease, or ending poverty.   But is just praying enough?  Or do we need to do something as well?  Often the answer to our prayers is not just God doing something, but our eyes being opened to take a needed action ourselves.

 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.
Exodus 14:15

             Quiet times of reflection are important for the restoration of inner peace.  One should pause many times throughout the day for prayerful moments.  This does not necessarily mean falling to your knees in lengthy devout prayer.  It might be a short mental prayer for a homeless person you see on the street as you drive by or a praise to God when you hear something good about someone else.  And frequent thoughts and remembrances of those you keep in your prayers.  A kind smile and a helping hand whenever you can give them can do wondrous things.  Slow down and realize how your words and actions can impact those around you.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  

Colossians 1:9-14 (New International Version)

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