Last weekend I was at a retreat with a group of college students. In our last gathered time together we looked through a sea of magazines looking for stories, pictures, and headline that drew us in, that our hearts resonated with in some way. The idea of the exercise, which was part of our worship service, was that sometimes God speaks to us about our calling in life through the needs of the world that tug on our heart. Perhaps as we discover where our hearts beat to the same rhythm as that of God’s, we find something of what he created us to be and do in the world.
After 20-30 minutes of flipping through dozens of magazines, each one posted all their articles on a common prayer frame which then became our prayer requests for the morning. We just a small group of students there were hundreds of prayers. Prayers for peace, prayers the depressed, prayers for the homeless, the soldier, the sick. There were prayers for children, youth, and adults. There were prayers for deliverance from all kinds of addictions. There were prayers for the governments of many countries, prayers for the poor; prayers upon prayers upon prayers.
The exercise was good. Not only was this an opportunity to reflect on my own sense of calling, it was also a reminder that our prayers are meant to be more than our own personal wish list. We live such busy lives sometimes, that even when we find time to pray, the prayers are often self-focused and bound by the lines that define “my needs.”
1 Timothy 2:1 reminds us that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone” (or in some translations “for all people”). If you took ten or fifteen minutes each day, to read or hear the news, or to reflect on the needs of others, what would you be praying about? Maybe we could all be a little more intentional to be sure our prayers are connected with the prayers of the world.