But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
For twenty years out of the twenty-six since becoming a devoted Christian, I attended an Episcopal church. Our services were structured and guided by The Book of Common Prayer, a magnificently crafted liturgy followed faithfully to the letter each Sunday. While I took great comfort in the poetic prayers said in unison, in the rich and sacred language of the Holy Eucharist, and, yes, even in the dependable routine of the service, there was one drawback to this which I did not realize until called to lead the congregation in two prayers, the opening and offertory, in all our contemporary praise services. I could not, for the life of me, pray on my feet! Sure, I could pray just fine behind closed doors, away from the crowds and close to God, but without a history of spontaneity in worship, the prospect of leading prayer was overwhelming. How, I thought, was I going to handle this new responsibility without hemming, hawing, and stuttering enough to bring the image of poor speech-impaired Moses to everyone's mind?
In praying about my feelings of inadequacy, God gave me a flash of inspiration: Write the prayers out beforehand; I gave you this gift and I want you to use it! Of course! That was the answer! How simple and straightforward but, in my panic, I couldn't see it without the Lord's prompting. Each week now, I peruse the song selections for the coming Sunday and the sermon topic to create what I hope are meaningful and memorable prayers that go hand-in-hand with the service. My confirmation in this came one day when Pastor Emily commented on how much she liked my prayers and, a week later, when Chris, our music director, asked me to write a special prayer for our upcoming revival. As you might imagine, I was both humble and ecstatic! There's nothing more gratifying than being able to use our gifts in the service of the Lord.
How are you using the special gifts and talents God gave you? If you're not sure, "go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father". He's the one with all the answers.
Psalms (83) 116, 117 or 85, 86
2 Kings 9:1-16
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
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