I make hospital visits every week as one of my responsibilities as a pastor of Congregational Care. It is always a privilege to visit with a person and his or her family to offer prayers for healing and comfort in a time of illness. However, last week I had the joy of visiting with a young couple whose infant daughter just arrived into this world. As I held her and prayed for her and her family I remembered the verse of Psalm 139 that says, “ For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  It is so comforting to remember that God knows us and loves us before we are even born. It is no less than a miracle each time a baby is born, a perfect work of God’s creation revealed.
As I got into my car and began to drive home, a favorite hymn emerged in my mind one or two words at time. Then the tune emerged. By the time I got home I ran straight to my United Methodist Hymnal and found the verse of the hymn that God spoke to me driving home from the hospital. “How sweet to hold…a newborn baby…and feel the pride…and joy she gives…but greater still…the calm assurance…this child can face uncertain days because he lives.” If you haven’t figured it out yet, it is “Because He Lives,” hymn 364—one we love to sing around Easter. My son and I then played it together on the piano and sang the entire hymn. I felt surrounded by God’s presence from the time I set eyes upon the baby until I sang the last note of a hymn of resurrection (with an otherwise snarky teenager).
Regular exposure to the scriptures and hymns of our faith through worship shape our spontaneous prayers, and mold and us into Christians who begin to perceive God’s extraordinary nature in very ordinary times of life. This week, I invite you to use our hymnal to guide your prayers.
–Nancy Pauls, Pastor of J-L and Prayer.