Thursday, November 02, 2006

Are You Keeping Company WIth God?

Doing The Work Of Prayer

Georges Boujakly writes a monthly column on spiritual disciplines for the Christian life.

In December of 2004, I wrote about doing the “work of prayer”. A friend quizzed “what on earth do you mean by that?” I take her challenge to describe what I mean by showing how people I know do it.

James Houston defines prayer as “keeping company with God”. This is something like what my kids would say when I ask: “Where have you been?” “Hanging out with friends,” they reply. Being there or being present to God, being available and open to enter into conversation at any moment he beckons is the work of prayer. Do you think it would be a good idea to accuse my daughters of wasting time? They think that “hanging out” is a major occupation of their time with friends. It is productive time. Presence is what they “do”.

Another experience to describe the work of prayer comes to mind. A few years ago, I met a woman at a Wichita pastors’ gathering. Right then Holy Spirit summoned her to begin praying for me. Ever since, every few months she calls and asks about my prayer needs. I share with her my family needs and my ministry needs. When she calls again she asks specifically about the needs I shared with her the time before. She marks off her list those prayers that God has answered. Would you say she is one who does the work of prayer? Do you do the work of prayer in someone’s life? What a blessing you are and could be!

Yet another idea. My wife, Carolyn, loves to minister to the elderly. This is her favorite job. Presently she is a companion to the mother of a woman from our home church. This wonderful daughter pays Carolyn to go to the house daily to meet her mother’s physical needs. But that is not the most important thing she does. According to her, the time she spends listening to her older companion is very rewarding to both of them. Listening to the heart of people is God’s work and when we do it, we do the work of prayer. We imitate Abba.

Carolyn has discovered that one way to get her older friend to eat sufficiently to keep up her physical strength is to bring her own lunch and to eat together. Doing the work of prayer is keeping the company of others listening to their dramas and hopes. It is sharing what sustains, heals, reconciles and guides.

The work of prayer is keeping company with God, praying intensely for others, listening to others and sharing life with them. It sounds a lot like Jesus to me. Walking with the master is doing the work of prayer.

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