Luke 22:32
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

A few years ago, when I was trying to get back on my feet after my battle with PsuedoTumor Cerebri, I recall going to church one Sunday and hearing a sermon entitled, The Church is Praying for You. It was an incredible sermon on the power of prayer and how one should never worry about the trials they are facing because their is a huge group of faithful believers, the Church, that are praying for them.

It made me think of ALL the churches I’d attended in my lifetime and how incredible it is that all of those people were praying for little ‘ole me. What I’d learned as I worshipped with each group over the years, was that the love they shared with Christ, was easily transferrable to me…and vice versa. I’ve always felt at “home” at church. His presence there: the Holy Spirit permeating the atmosphere, always made me feel “safe.”

During that time in my life of rebuilding, I was strengthened by that short sentence: The Church is Praying for YOU. I had images suddenly come to mind of the usher at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington DC, who always sweetly allowed me to sit in the balcony, even when the main floor wasn’t full. I thought of the incredible people I met at the small group sessions I joined at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. In those groups I was able to connect with other 20-somethings who were just trying to find their way. I pondered over the mornings I worked as a Stage Manager at Howard University’s Chapel…and how peaceful that theater was for 2 hours every Sunday. I remember thinking God is paying me to worship! LOL

I grew full, as I thought of the several summers I spent at St. Michael United Methodist Church’s Vacation Bible School in Bennettsville with my grandparents as a child. They are no longer here on earth, but I will never forget those hot days in the sanctuary, where I learned all about Peter and his discipleship– his adoration toward Jesus that today has inspired this Tidbit.

My heart warmed as I recalled the mornings I drove Grandma Birdie, in Atlanta, to Allen Temple AME church and later to St. John AME Church. She sat in the second to last row in both churches with such Grace and Presence. Members always made it a point to come greet her before settling in for service themselves. They’d smile toward me, suggesting that I was one lucky little girl.

Nowadays, as I sit in St. Matthew AME Church of Orange, NJ, I am reminded that THIS Church, the church I now call home, is always praying for me too! It is all so overwhelming when you think about it, but years ago when I heard that sermon it became a immediate source of encouragement and comfort: The Church (ALL of them) is Praying for YOU.

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago, however, that God really brought the message home for me. At St. Matthew, my pastor, Rev. Dr. Lanel D. Guyton, preached on Luke 22: 32 (above). He honed in on the fact that not only are our Churches praying for us, but Jesus HIMSELF, is praying for us. “Now that’s something entirely different,” I thought. As he elaborated on the scripture, he spoke of how precious we all are to Jesus as a church and individually. In this scripture, Jesus is speaking directly to Peter, indicating his compassion for his growth and protection, just before Jesus endures the most painful sacrifice of His own existence.

Jesus, prayed for Peter. Jesus, of all people, took time to speak to Peter’s need…before Peter even knew he needed it! In that same way, Jesus prays for us. Or rather, He has already prayed for us. He’s ahead of us, petitioning, advocating, preparing a way…for US to succeed.

Why? So that we may each share how the faith He prayed for us to have kept us for failing…from falling… from losing. Jesus has prayed that we lean on Him, so that we can each tell someone else how to do the same thing. Why? So that His light might shine so brightly in each of us, that the darkness around us would simply disappear.

Are you scared right now? Are you worried right now? Are you lonely right now? Well, The Church is Praying for You…Jesus has Prayed for You…I’m Praying for You.

Receive that. Believe that you are cared for by people you have never met and by a Savior you have never seen.

Trust in the prayers. Remain faithful in the promises that God has revealed to you: you will not be defeated; your enemy will be crushed; the Love He has for you will ALWAYS win. Trust Him. Obey Him.

Then…pray it forward.

I Love you,
Ashley