A DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT by Linda Sommerville
On their release, Peter and John went back…and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God….
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:23-23, 31
There is a national obsession with voyeurism. We sit in our living rooms, legally peering into the personal lives of strangers thanks to our standard surveillance equipment—the television. In the name of "reality TV" we watch "real-life" drama unfold for the people on the screen.
The popularity of reality TV makes total sense. We've become an increasingly fragmented society, with very little real community and connectedness. We're starved for deep, meaningful relationships with others who will share the ups-and-downs of life's journey with us. Sadly, instead of authentic community, we've settled for "networking," "social media" and a good dose of "reality TV." For the duration of the program, we're treated to pseudo-community as we find ourselves becoming emotionally attached to the characters. The problem is, when the show is over, the illusion of real community ends and we're still left with our deep need to connect.
This need, by the way, is more than purely emotional. In Genesis 2:18, we read of the very first thing in all of creation that God said was “not good.” He said, "It is not good for humans to be alone." Fundamentally, we were created for meaningful, ongoing relationships, and the absence of this is "not good."
A number of years ago I encountered a family that gave me the incredible gift of true community and much of it was the result of our times of prayer together.
I had the privilege of spending a summer in the Philippines serving in an outreach ministry. While I was there, I lived with a Filipino family. Even though they primarily spoke Tagalog, I felt very much a part of the family as they went to great lengths to make me feel at home.
The single strongest community-builder I experienced was what happened on Saturday nights. Each week, Nanay and Tatay, my host parents, would gather with their sons and daughters, their children's spouses, and all the grandchildren in their small living room. They joined together for worship, Bible study, and especially prayer. Through the interpretation of my "brother," Joe, I was treated to stories of how God had been answering prayer and working in each of their lives. Even though I didn't always understand what they were saying, I felt the presence of God in that small room in a powerful way I'll never forget.
I was captivated by this family's love for God and for one another. It seemed to me that as they joined in prayer, I could visibly see them drawing closer to each other. At first I, the "missionary," was very intimidated by the strong faith and powerful prayers of these wonderful people. But, they quickly enveloped me in their circle of community by praying for me and inviting me to pray as well. God's love was poured out to me through these times of prayer, and I found my own faith growing.
Over the summer, I found myself desperately wanting what this family had. They couldn't believe that I, the "rich" American, could possibly be lacking something that they had to give. But I would definitely take the intimacy of that little prayer circle over the pseudo-community of "reality TV" any day of the week.
If you're ready to follow God into the adventure of true community, I encourage you to find a small group to pray with regularly, whether it's your own family or a group of friends. Be sure to spend some time together praising God and lifting up the needs of your group and your community. God will be glorified, His power will be released, and by His grace He will knit your hearts together into the family of God.
Now that Covid is starting to lift, we at PGCC are wanting to reestablish neighborhood prayer groups. If you are interested in joining one, or starting one, please contact Pastor Phil through the church office.