Been there, done that. In a world where we often have a particular life experience and then scratch it off our bucket list, it is always powerful to discover things you would do again and again. Things so wonderful that you would keep repeating them. Last year’s Prayer Summit was like that for me. It was a rich time of praying with others and calling out to God on behalf of the people of the Christian Reformed Church. It was a time of feeling the transforming power of prayer in my own life and among those I love and who love me. Instead of thinking it was something to simply have done and crossed off the list, I found myself longing for another opportunity, another invitation.
So I was delighted when I saw that we were gathering for a second prayer summit. I quickly paid my fee and began making plans. My brother has a spare bedroom and lives not far from the site. I can drive across the desert and hang out with him and his lovely family while also spending time with Jesus and his bride. When I asked my brother if I could crash at his place, I also invited him to join me. He can’t get away because of his work commitments and that is always an issue. I find myself inviting others to come pray, as well. It is hard to get away from the cares of this world and it is expensive for those who have to fly and live out of a hotel for a few nights. Still, it would be worth the price, I think.
I worried last year that we would do too much teaching about prayer and not enough praying. We like to talk things to death instead of just doing them. Prayer is hard work. It requires thoughtfulness and confession and focus and lots of other things that I don’t like to engage. We long for God to give us what we want while hesitating to declare that he is good in what he has already given. We are slow to turn from evil and quick to blame when things go bad. It’s hard to tear ourselves from a comfortable bed or an entertaining television to go to go pray. Last year I had the opportunity to exercise so many of the disciplines of prayer. It was good even when it was hard. Maybe especially because it was hard. Spurred on by others who were like minded I found myself taking delight in being with God and his people and found myself wishing it wouldn’t end.
God answered prayer. He listened to my longings and answered me. I didn’t always like his answer, but I was always reminded to trust his goodness. He likes to say no and to tell us to wait when he wants to teach us about himself. He is delighted to say a resounding yes to our longings when they are part of his perfect will. While I prayed, there were others who cheered me on and some who I had the opportunity to encourage as well. That is what happens when we gather to pray, we grow together. In a world where we are distanced from each other it is good to assemble. It is good to congregate. It is good to put away our smart phones and our daily tasks and look into the faces of those who God has given his Spirit and pray with them and beside them and for them. God listens and he hears. And Satan trembles.
I don’t scratch Prayer Summits off of my bucket list. I leave “Attend a denominational Prayer Summit” as a continuing item on my bucket list. I hope we do one every year. I pray God gives me the time and the wherewithal to attend every time and every place it might happen. I am so grateful for the opportunity to pray with the church I love to the God I love.