“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
I have a prayer partner I’ve been privileged to pray with for approximately two years. At one point we were connecting six days a week and it was a time we took for granted. If we had known how much our schedules were going to change the following year, I think I would have appreciated it more and not taken it for granted, assuming life would stay the same.
God warned us ahead of time, though, before the change occurred, to start our conversations with prayer because inevitably we would only have time to pray and nothing else. So, in obedience, that is how we began structuring our phone calls. It was the rare exception we would chat a little first before praying because on the few times we did do that, something would happen and we would never get to connect in prayer, which is what we needed more than anything else.
However, I’ve noticed that once in a while God allows us to “praise” first and then pray. This past week we prayed together on Monday after an extraordinarily difficult weekend for one of us and the prayers were more heartfelt than usual. It was a true crying out to God to fix the situation we found ourselves in and trusting Him (and also a time of thanksgiving before we were able to see the answer, but knowing He had the answer).
We weren’t able to connect again until two days later and this time, instead of digging right into prayer like we usually do, we took what we thought would be five minutes of publically praising God (because where two or three are gathered, there God says He is) and it urned into over 30 minutes of praising God, bouncing between the two of us as we shared the wonderful things God was doing in our lives – some of the praises amazing answers God gave which sabotaged the enemy’s schemes.
Even though the majority of the time we get together we begin with prayer because that is what our Heavenly Father encouraged us to do, I believe when we sit, sometimes for 30 minute stretches, and share with each other how God is blessing our lives, answering prayers, giving peace, etc. it pleases Him too. I believe God blesses His children not just so that we can experience His blessings and goodness ourselves, but so that we will share those blessings with others to strengthen their faith and offer hope and encouragement for the trials they are experiencing also.
That time of praise flowed into a beautiful time of prayer – mainly thanking God for His goodness, our chance to fellowship and also offering up some heartfelt requests for others in our lives.
I’m always refreshed and feel filled with God’s joy and peace after we’re done praying, but yesterday’s “filling” is still resonating within my spirit this morning and we haven’t yet had a chance to connect today.
God reinforced to me again yesterday that praising Him is as an important element of prayer as the prayers themselves.
© Cheri Swalwell 2019