Christian people pray. They love to pray, or at least they work toward feeling that love. Most of us find our spiritual lives gaining their best traction when we think about a world larger than the one we create through dallying over our reputation, latest wardrobe or hefty to-do list. We pray for the needs and circumstances that ripple through other peoples' lives.
In Christian lingo, we refer to this petitionary practice as intercessory prayer. We intercede for people — that is, we carry their sadness, distress or fear down the next immediate stretch of road. The apostle Paul speaks of "bear[ing] one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). In my mind, it's like wearing the heaviest clothes of someone whose journey is weighed down and void of real life.
Your bulletin or worship folder may read "Prayers of the People" or simply "Prayers." But no matter who wrote these prayers, or who has the courage to speak them on behalf of the community, they reveal the abundance of your congregational heart. They tell anyone who happens to be eavesdropping on the moment exactly what counts for faith in your church.
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