From Pastor Kyung Mo Koo
Would you join me a word of prayer? Let us bow our heads. Let us take a moment for silent prayer!
These are the words we most frequently say or hear during church services. As Christians, we not only worship God every Sunday, but we also participate in fellowship activities, attend Bible studies, and join in various mission and ministry opportunities. Before, during, and after such worship, activities, or events, we always pray. Why do we pray? Why should we pray? Who should pray?
Every time we do God’s ministry or attend any meeting, fellowship event, or Christian education opportunity, we expect God’s intervention, guidance, protection, and provision. Unlike other social groups, we are looking beyond what we do. We expect God’s presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, we pray and believe in the power of prayer. If we don’t believe in God’s presence and work, we don’t need to pray.
But we do believe in God and His presence, power, and provision; so we need to pray before, during, and after whatever we do in the name of God. Prayer is not a ritual like the national anthem before a ball game. Prayer is asking for God’s help as we carry out His mission and ministry.
The first thing I do every time I enter the church is pray. Before I meet or share anything with people, I meet God first. I intentionally take time to personally talk to and hear from God first. As a spiritual leader, I ask God to lead me, guide me, and give me whatever I need to further His kingdom. We need that act of faith, too. So, I suggest that you not only pray before a meal or bedtime, but also try to pray first thing when you come to church. Before you share a greeting or have fellowship with others, meet God first and take time to talk to God.
“Prayer is our major source of spiritual power and the proof of our intimate relationship with God.”
Although I am still new to Lincoln Park, I am leading worship, attending committees, and participating in breakfasts, luncheons, and other fellowship events enough to share my observations with you. Because I am new, I can see things you may have become accustomed to, ignored, or don’t recognize. With respect to prayer, I was surprised by the culture that Lincoln Park is much too dependent on the pastor. The majority at Lincoln Park seems to perceive the pastor as the one in charge of every prayer. Surely, the pastor should be a person of prayer in his/her own journey of faith and should guide others to pray; however, it is a misunderstanding that the pastor is the only one who can or should pray at every meeting, event, or fellowship. The pastor’s exclusive duty and role for the church is Word and Sacrament. Prayer is not in that category.
One of the biggest differences between Catholic and Protestant churches is the “priesthood of all believers.” We don’t need a priest to act as an agent when we confess and talk to God. The pastor is not a mediator between God and you; God desires to communicate with you personally, so you can talk to God anytime, anyplace, and on any occasion. I came here not as a professional praying person, but as a helper who can shepherd Lincoln Park to become a praying congregation. Remember, Jesus did not teach us how to preach, but how to pray.
My suggestion for you is that you try to lead a prayer, especially if you are a chairperson of a committee or a leader at any gathering. If it is new and hard for you, write down your prayer. If you’re asked to lead and pray for the group, do not fear or turn it down.
Our church staff and praise band team have begun to pray together before services every Sunday. We need to encourage and support each other, be one body of Christ, and ask for God’s help before we worship His name and glory. For Christians, whether clergy or laity, prayer is our major source of spiritual power and the proof of our intimate relationship with God.
I encourage all Lincoln Park members to pray in private, as well as in public. The pastor is not the designated one to pray. Each and every one of us is God’s child, whom He delights in and wants to hear from. Each one of us has the right and privilege to pray to God directly. So, let us pray “Together!”