As I arrived at church today at 9am, I think I expected things to have that “winding down” feeling; we are after all on the final few hours of our week of 24/7 prayer, due to end at 1pm today.
Instead, the sense as I entered the sanctuary was of a serene, welcoming and yet very much alive space, as my eyes adjusted to the soft lighting, and I realized there were several people here and there communing with God. A woman I have never seen before sat at the “Art Expressions” table, obviously moved and weeping as her lips moved in prayer. An unfamiliar man passed me, smiling as he seemed to wander around, taking it all in in delight. The HIV/AIDS ministry team prayed softly in a circle of chairs, pouring their hearts out in compassionate intercession.
I stepped into the alcove, to check the Prayer Link basket. “How many more prayer links were made in the night, “I wondered. “Will there be enough to go all the way around the room?” I looked up onto the wall behind the stage, where the long encircling chain had ended the night before. It was all I could do to keep the silence and not exclaim. The chain was already complete! The paper chain of prayer after prayer after prayer, from individuals for individuals, each link with a name on it, surrounded the whole sanctuary. What an amazing and beautiful visual expression of the connection with God and one another through prayer.
A few hours later, my son Nathaniel arrived to start “dolly-ing” the chairs back to the entryway, in preparation for them being taken in and reset later this afternoon once the stations are all down. The people I had seen earlier were mostly gone, and new “pray-ers” had come in their place. “It still doesn’t feel like it is something that’s ending in there, does it? It feels like something that is going to be here tomorrow, and this week and next month. . . “
Lord, we ARE “ending” our week of prayer – and just the same I know it is true – this work you have done and are doing in us, is not ending. You are revealing to us, and deepening in us the truth, Your truth, that I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE, THE HOUSE OF PRAYER. You have us on an amazing and progressing journey, a journey deeper into Your heart, and deeper into our identity as your people, your children, through prayer.
It doesn’t end here, Lord, does it? I didn’t think so.
And I am glad.