Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcoming Prayer

"My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." Mark 11:17

I arrived in Louisville yesterday afternoon and had the opportunity to ride from the airport with a Marist brother who is here from New Jersey. We had never met before but we had a lively conversation and I felt encouraged and welcomed in this place. I had been anxious about this gathering, this group of strangers, folks from across the US and Canada, representing many denominations, and just how this gathering would go. That chance encounter, that brief conversation made me feel welcomed and prayerful, where before I had been cautious and concerned. I felt a renewed sense of God's presence, a touch of grace, an invitation to be open to God working in this time away.

Jesus overturns the tables in the temple and causes quite a stir, upsetting the normal pattern of behavior. The sale of items for sacrifices had become so regular, that prayer was no longer a welcomed norm, but rather commerce took center stage. There was no space for a quiet conversation with God, no invitation to be open to God, no welcome quiet place for God to stir hearts. Instead there was only the busy exchange of strangers, who were not taking the time to talk with God and listen with their hearts. There wasn't the space for it in this place or their lives.

Today, I feel challenged to make room for prayer in a new way. To make space for the welcome of God. To clear the decks of all that has cluttered my sense of sanctuary. To open my ears again and listen to the still small voice of the Creator. In this place, in this gathering, among strangers, in all ways I feel a renewed invitation to pray. I invite you to welcome prayer today, however you pray, so that we might be able to listen to God in a new way today. Not for ourselves alone, but so that others might be invited to places which are houses of prayer for all people -no matter the setting. We can pray together, despite barriers of language, traditions, practices, etc, and we can open our hearts to the working of God, welcoming God's love into withering hearts, withering places.

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