PR ISAAC CHANG
Lately, in one of my journey sessions with someone, I shared my early Christian growth in prayer. People used to offer transport to travel from the Monash campus to church at Waverley to attend church service. Well, I took the free ride to church. But I had to wake up very early and arrive at church one hour earlier. I remember that I saw the ushers and receptionists (similar to our Befrienders) were busy setting up the table and chairs and getting ready with the bulletin to welcome visitors and members. I walked further in and saw members and regular visitors arranging chairs in rows. As I put my bag down, I heard from the stage the worship team rehearsing their songs. There were so much life and small talk here and there besides the usual, “Good day mate!”
Thirty minutes before the service, the church pastors, leaders, CG leaders, and shepherds gathered at the front. They were standing between the pulpit and the congregation chairs. They gathered in groups of three to four people and began to pray for the service. Sometimes, they prayed for one another and the needs of the church. Some leaders knew me personally and invited me to pray with them together. I was quietly thinking, “God, I don’t know how to pray like them. And I’m not good at it.” While our heads bowed, eyes closed, one by one began to pray. I heard their hearts cry. I sensed their desire for the church to grow. And I felt their passions in simple unscripted prayers. At times, I felt God’s Spirit moved within me. The Spirit wanted to open my mouth to pray. Again, I was quietly struggling, “God, I don’t know how to pray like them. What words shall I use? What sentences shall I form? What prayers shall I offer? God, I really don’t know. I shall skip this time. Sorry, God.”
Week after week, the same thing repeated. The very friendly ushers and the receptionist did their setup cheerfully. The volunteers set up the chairs for the congregation happily. And the worship team had a good fellowship while rehearsing. The same people were praying at the front before the service. Similarly, I was at the front praying with the leaders. I was not a leader and not even a shepherd (someone who looked after a visitor or a new believer). Again, I was struggling silently with the move of God’s Spirit to urge me to pray.
Because all of these had been happening consistently before the service, their words, prayers, and spirit sank into me. I began to be aligned with them. My heart, being, and spirit were all strung up with the pre-service preparation physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. When the Spirit moved within me, I began to pray with the leaders and shepherds. Words, sentences, and thoughts formed in my mind spiritually and mentally. I boldly prayed with the leaders. At that moment, I was fully aligned with them and everything before the service.
From that day onwards, my participation in the pre-service prayer sent me to a higher level of worship and fellowship experience. And that day, I got closer to God and the people in the church through prayers. Furthermore, that day I became more ready for the whole service and more worshipful to God. Everything started to transform inside and outside of me. I saw their lives, and I heard them. By learning from others, this is how I learned to pray.