God in the World
God in the world means that we believe that God is embodied in the here and now. As a result, continually look to see God in all things, places and people. Last week we talked about definitions of a neighbor and carefully considered different ways of looking at others with respect and dignity.
We all agreed that, particularly in our church, we know that the people are good and seek to act within God’s guidance. If someone approaches us in our congregation with a viewpoint extremely different than ours, we can respectfully disagree and walk away KNOWING that God is in charge. We all agreed that this is where faith can be challenging.
Beginning to Pray for Others
A question that continues to arise is how to pray for others. We first had to look at who is our neighbor, and what does it mean to work for the neighbor’s well-being. As a result, the next question becomes, “Do I need to pray for my neighbor?” Richard J. Foster gives excellent guidance in the passage below:
Usually, the courage actually to go and pray for a person is a sign of sufficient faith. Frequently our lack is not faith but compassion. It seems that genuine empathy between the pray-er and the pray-ee often makes the difference. We are told that Jesus was “moved with compassion” for people. Compassion was an evident feature of every healing in the New Testament. We do not pray for people as “things,” but as “persons” whom we love. If we have God-given compassion and concern for others, our faith will grow and strengthen as we pray. In fact, if we genuinely love people, we desire for them far more than it is within our power to give, and that will cause us to pray.
The inner sense of compassion is one of the clearest indications from the Lord that this is a prayer project for you. In times of meditation there may come a rise in the heart, a compulsion to intercede, an assurance of rightness, a flow of the Spirit. The inner “yes” is the divine authorization for you to pray for the person or situation. If the idea is accompanied with a sense of dread, then probably you should set it aside. God will lead someone else to pray for the matter.
For the coming week, focus on this passage and begin to reflect on what it means for your own prayer life.
2 Corinthians 5:16-20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view;[a] even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,[b] we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,[c] not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
 Foster, Richard J. “Chapter 3.” Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988. 39-40. Print.