Today’s Reading: Acts 4:24-25 (NIV)
24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “’Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?”’
Even with all our unique cultural distinctions, we share a common bond when it comes to pain. No one likes to hurt, and most of us feel a deep sense of compassion for those who are suffering.
Lately, I have been spending time at local hospitals, visiting and praying for the sick and suffering. In a hospital, one does not have to look far to see the anguish of patients and their families. As medical providers work tirelessly to diagnose and properly treat the ill, families and friends huddle close in hallways and waiting rooms, crying together, praying for miracles, and resting. One evening after work, I went to the hospital to visit my friend. He had been badly injured in an accident and was placed on the trauma ward. This floor of the hospital is where the most critically injured patients are cared for while their bodies mend. Families generally do not leave; they wait for word of their loved ones in the intensive care waiting rooms, camping out with sleeping bags, pillows and suitcases. When the elevator door opened, I immediately noticed the packed waiting area. The lights had been dimmed and folks were sleeping everywhere. There is hope when human hearts offer a ministry of presence to those who are struggling to survive a season of suffering.
New converts to The Way were struggling with the harsh realities in which they found themselves. People whom they love and admire were being taken into chains, tortured mercilessly, and killed. The soldiers were meticulously carrying out orders, believing these people were fools to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of the living God. Family and friends remained huddled close together, praying for the physical release of their teachers and friends. There is amazing power when human hearts join hands in a believers’ prayer.
When Peter and John returned alive and unharmed, a prayer of praise immediately filled the room. There was an expression of thanksgiving to the One who miraculously protected their teachers, followed by a spiritual war cry for the injustices they were suffering. Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? Why do new believers have to suffer so? Will this suffering ever end?
Throughout the generations, we profess our hope when we say the believers’ prayer together. Won’t you take my hand and pray with me now: Father, in the name of Jesus, we lift up all who are suffering for your sake today. We do not understand why the war rages on; yet, we trust in the powerful name of Jesus to see us through seasons of suffering and pain. Father, we ask for a supernatural miracle, to release the prisoners held in captivity; to bring healing and wholeness to those who are sick, and comfort to family members who stand by, watching and waiting for their release. Together, we offer up our believers’ prayer today, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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