Pray with one another
Updated: Jan 15
If you've ever prayed in a group, you know what it's like to feel distracted, have difficulty listening, trouble focusing, or maybe thinking about (or even feeling stressed about) what you will pray when your turn comes. Sound familiar?
We want to pray together well, but the scriptures don't give us much direct guidance about "listening better" or "focusing more" while others pray. Instead, we repeatedly find a command that seems to power such connection: "HONOR ONE ANOTHER".
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. [Romans 12:9-13]
There is an overarching idea of authentic "love" that stands beneath every other "one another" action we are called to. In our discussion at EPL, we talked about how authentic love helps us feel safe and cared for. So after laying this foundation of love and devotion to one another, Paul asks us to "honor one another above [our]selves".
It can be hard to know what to make of this idea of "honor" in today's world. In a courtroom, we honor a judge and jury by rising to our feet when they enter. In the military, honor is given to those of a higher rank by title and decorum. In a bar scene, a guy with a few too many beers in him throws a punch to protect the honor of his girl (at least in the movies). But what is "honor" really? What is it that is being referred to here in this call to honor one another?
The word "honor" in scripture refers to the value or price we assign to a person. Put another way, it's the recognition of the value a person contributes to your world and the world. The Bible frequently refers to the ideas of "glory" and "honor" hand in hand since "glory" refers to the implicit value one holds and "honor" refers to the value that is placed upon a person by another. So God has both glory (implicit) and honor (assigned by angels, creation, & himself). See Rev 5:13.
As we think of honoring one another, the real question is, "what value do we place upon one another?" C.S. Lewis said it well:
"There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal."
If you were given the opportunity to have coffee with your favorite, most admired celebrity, you probably wouldn’t find your mind wandering or have difficulty paying attention. In fact, you'd more likely hang on their every word and wait for another because of the great value you've have placed upon them.
What would it mean for us to see one another with such honor? To place such value upon another so as to recognize their contribution to you and the world? Perhaps we might find ourselves hanging on their every word, too, believing that their words (which express their hearts) are also of great value!
Praying with one another attentively has everything to do with how we honor each other. In 1 Peter 3, husbands are instructed to "honor their wives... so that nothing will hinder your prayers". Seems kind of random to connect honor and prayer, doesn't it? But, somehow, the value we place on another clears away hindrances to prayer and opens up the gates of gospel community marked by "authentic" love and compassion.
THIS WEEK'S PRACTICE
This week, connect with someone (by phone, video chat, or in person) for 10-15 minutes to honor one another as you listen to one another & pray for one another. Some of you may end up doing this with multiple people over the week and that is great! If you need a kick start, you can ask one another these questions: “WHAT HAS BEEN A HIGHLIGHT OF THIS WEEK? WHAT HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE THIS LAST WEEK?”
Honor one another by listening intentionally. Then, pray for one another with intentional listening. Don't worry about what you will pray next. Just listen. Value the person's heart as expressed by their words. Let your heart respond. Seize the images that come to mind as you listen to them. And allow God to speak to and through you as you respond in prayer.