Think back to a time when you met a person who became a close friend. Perhaps you were in college or the military or your first job and away from home for the first time. Perhaps it was another parent of a child the same age as yours. Maybe you were introduced to a friend of a friend who became your friend, too. However, that relationship started, I suspect we could all agree that one of the things that got that relationship off the ground was conversation: talking about shared interests, backgrounds, and experiences that make us who we are, etc. If I asked you to describe that first conversation, I suspect you'd tell me about the funny stories you shared, the personal life details about family and experiences you shared, and possibly even the moment when you knew this new friend would be a friend for life. This kind of sharing--speaking and listening--is the foundation for just about any strong, long-term relationship. And it is the continued shared communication--speaking and listening--that keeps those most important relationships active and nourished.
The same is true with your personal relationship with God. That same kind of sharing--speaking and listening--is the foundation for a strong, meaningful, long-term relationship with God. That relationship is the most important of your life, yet there may be times in your life when you feel disconnected or distant in that relationship. Maybe your schedule is too busy to add daily prayer. It might be that you prayed for a particular thing for a long time, and it never happened, and you lost faith in the relationship. There are a lot of real reasons why our communication with God ebbs and flows. I'm not here to pass judgement on that; I'm here to encourage you to give it some attention and reconnect with God through prayer.
This Sunday's sermon will be about the importance of prayer--personal prayer--in building your relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us models for prayer that are short (Matthew 6:9-13 or Luke 11:2-4) and long (John 17:6-26). There are other ways to pray, such as breath prayers and meditation, even apps you can download to your mobile device. Regardless of how you do it, making time for a daily practice of prayer is vitally important to growing your relationship with God in Christ. When that relationship is strong and healthy, your other relationships will be, too. The wisdom and constancy of God are things we need so much right now, and they are at our disposal as God waits for us to reach out. I'd love to help you find new ways to pray if you are looking for them. Please let me know how I can help.
And don't forget that there are some ways to grow with others and our community coming right up! In addition to worship, there will also be a collaborative small group opportunity for you to join in with members of the Sandy Springs UMC to dive more deeply into our study of God's covenant with us. The group will study the book Wesley Prayer Challenge, which is based on the Wesleyan Covenant Prayer which we prayed together in worship this past week. The small group will meet on zoom on Tuesday nights at 7:30 starting January 19 and ending February 9. To sign-up or for more info contact Mychal Ellis, Ministry Intern at Sandy Springs UMC: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing how your relationship with God is growing deeper through the practice of prayer.