Devotional Thought of the Day:
9 But when the people of Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a rescuer to save them. Judges 3:9 (NLT2)
Our prayer is common and collective, and when we pray we pray not for one but for all people, because we are all one people together. The God of peace and master of concord, who taught that we should be united, wanted one to pray in this manner for all, as he himself bore all in one. The three youths shut up in the furnace of fire observed this law of prayer by joining together in harmony of prayer and agreement of spirit. The reliability of the divine Scriptures declares this; and while it teaches the manner in which they prayed, it gives an example which we should imitate in our prayers, inasmuch as we are able to be like them. It says: “Then those three sang as from one mouth and blessed the Lord” (Dan 3:51)
What is the worst thing that can happen to the Church? Not torture, murder, threats, persecution, or even the whole world conspiring to exterminate her from the face of the earth. That happened once, and the result was the greatest growth the Church has ever seen. Tertullian’s well known saying: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”1 confirms that.
I vaguely remember protest marches as a child, but I always remember the people singing as they marched. I can remember hearing them on our little television, singing Amazing Grace as they marched, and the hymn gaining power.
I remember another event, just a few years ago, where a man bent on preaching a message of hate was silenced, not physically, but by a church simply saying the Lord’s prayer together. After the 20th time through or so, the man gave up, and was peacefully escorted out of the building.
In both cases, the prayer and worship of God’s people, their active connection ot Him, made a huge difference. It calmed the storm, it helped them remember why we are here. It kept the focus, the focus.
Someone commented to me this morning that they saw the difference that having 15 people in our church service made, compared to the empty room the week before. They said I was happier, more energetic. To be honest, with all that was going on, I didn’t realize this. I felt more drained, more stressed, more anxious, more in need of hearing the words, “and with they spirit” Yet the prayers of Gods people helped… and I was able to lead them in worship.
This is why Kreeft can’t comment that conflict and stress are not the worst things we can encounter. For these times often draw us together in prayer, and eventually in worship – even if that worship is a lament. There is something powerful about voices joined together – voices that are communicating with God. Similarly, Cyprian notes
So let us sing, let us pray aloud. Let us lead others in singing, even if it is simply choruses of Alleluia or Amazing Grace!
(but if you are with a bunch of others – please still wear your masks!)
Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, On the Lord’s Prayer, ed. John Behr, trans. Alistair Stewart-Sykes, Popular Patristics Series, Number 29 (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004), 69–70.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 207.