The Gift of Prayer
by Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn

The act of coming before the throne of God in prayer should stagger us, for in prayer we approach the All-Powerful, All-Wise, All-Knowing Creator of All Things Seen and Unseen. (Shouldn’t everything be written in caps when describing God?) Chills should go down our spines when we pray.

But we can access the Most Holy God without a previous appointment. We get to talk with him anytime about anything that is on our mind or heart. We have been invited by Jesus, Son of God himself, who taught us to come confidently into the presence of our “Abba, Father” with the familiarity of a beloved child, leaping into God’s lap for his loving hug, asking for his favor, leaning on his guidance, both delighting in him and knowing that he delights in us.

We have learned well from our big brother, Jesus, about God’s approachability. But sometimes, taking for granted our freedom, we decline into casualness. We say words by rote that have little meaning. We pray less often. We pay less attention. We have to remind ourselves of the great privilege of prayer, and the responsibility that comes with that great privilege. It is still an awesome thing to be invited into the presence of God.

Last year the Outreach Department spent much time praying over and discussing how God wanted to use us in Altadena and Pasadena. How were we at ABC to show God’s great love to our community? The answer came when we realized that our access to God in prayer is a gift that is unique to the body of Christ, and that we can in turn give this gift to our community. Through prayer we can connect the needs of our community directly to the everlasting love of God.

We want Altadena Baptist Church to be known as the church that prays for our community. And we need you praying, joining other ABCers praying, in order to make this happen. We are inviting our community to send us their prayer requests through a neighborhood mailing. We also want you to let your friends know that they can count on us for prayer. When those requests come, we want each one to be prayed over by an ABCer. We want to pray specifically in TLC groups, in worship, and we want all ABCers to get in the habit of taking one or more prayer requests home to lift up to our God in our personal times of prayer.

We are designating part of the bulletin board next to the door of the sanctuary for prayer requests. When you see a request on that board, please consider taking it home to pray over that week. Some of them will be anonymous with little information—God knows the request and the person making it. Our task is to simply bring that person in need to a loving God.

Some of these people may never have been prayed over. What a thrill it is to bring someone for the first time to God’s throne, interceding on their behalf. Some of these people may need miraculous interventions in their circumstances. What an honor it is to bring those impossible situations to the God of salvation. Some of these people simply need a kind touch. What a privilege to ask for a divine touch upon their lives.

On Sunday, June 26, we are planning a special time of intercession as we kick-off our community prayer emphasis. Immediately following the morning service, we will spend some time in prayer in the sanctuary. Most Sundays we invite anyone who needs to connect to God in prayer to linger in His presence after worship. On June 26 we will invite everyone to linger in a prayer of intercession for our community. We hope you join us. And we hope that it will become part of your active, watchful, loving care for others in our community to pray every week over one or more requests that come in; that intercessory prayer will be habit-forming, and that you will find great fulfillment and joy in praying for others.

One of the biggest promises in Scripture is Jesus’ teaching: “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you…how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Mt. 7:7, 11) What boldness we are given to come before God with any and all needs! Let us confidently use our privilege in prayer, and watch expectantly as God does great things in us and through us.