This week in the sermon and GPS guide, we will be exploring the truth behind the half-truth, “God helps those who help themselves.” This particular “truth” has always bothered me, because it doesn’t take much looking around to see those who are asking for God’s help precisely because they have no means – spiritually, emotionally, or physically – to help themselves. This week, one of the real truths we will examine is our calling as God’s people to “Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of wicked.” (Psalm 82:4-5)
We don’t always think of offering prayer as being part of the rescue of the weak and needy, but in truth, one of the things most lacking in the lives of those who live in need is not physical or financial, but emotional and spiritual connection. Praying together is an intimate and bonding experience that stresses our equality before God.
When we pray with someone else, listening to their story is an important first step. Companions in Christ: The Way of Blessedness Leader’s Guide (Upper Room Books, 2003) offers these great instructions for truly listening to someone else as you prepare to pray:
Practice listening with your heart as well as your head. Create a welcoming, accepting space in which the other person may explore freely his or her journey in your presence and in the presence of God. Be natural, but be alert to any habits or anxious needs in you to analyze, judge, counsel, “fix,” teach, or share your own experience. Try to limit your speech to gentle questions and honest words of encouragement. Be inwardly prayerful as you listen, paying attention to the Spirit even as you listen to the holy mystery of the person before you.
When appropriate and non-intrusive, invite the other person to explore simple questions such as these:
Where did you experience God’s grace or presence in the midst of this time?
Do you sense God calling you to take a step forward in faith or love? Is there an invitation here to explore?
By practicing this kind of “holy listening” and then praying together, we can reach out to the heart and spirit of our neighbors and brothers and sisters who need help. Who can you pray with this week?
Resurrection Prayer Ministry