Care and Prayer

Care and Prayer

Loneliness is a serious contemporary social problem and also the reason why modern people can feel lost and undergo hardships. Some brothers and sisters in the church who have fallen victim to loneliness and hardships crave attention from church pastors, hoping to receive care and counsel.

In the past decade, pastoral care in the church has often been seen as the work of professionals. This type of work focuses on psychotherapy and guiding believers to deal with issues such as family, marriage, and interpersonal relationships. Through these caring tasks, pastors try to help brothers and sisters get out of trouble, but while caring for them with all their heart, they may inadvertently forget the meaning of "spiritual community" contained in caring. Z

1. Care Is Spiritual Fellowship

From the perspective of Christian belief, care is "spiritual fellowship."

Let us first understand the meaning of fellowship. Fellowship in Greek iskoinonia, meaning people with the same faith live a life of fellowship (fellowship) together. Fellowship literally means "union" or "partnership." Fellowship can refer to material involvement, such as when Christians in Macedonia and Achaia raised funds for the poor in Jerusalem. Fellowship can also refer to spiritual benefits, such as the benefits of "sharing" the gospel that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 9:23, or the fellowship of enjoying the Holy Spirit in 2 Corinthians 13:13 .

Greek word for fellowshipkoinoniaAppears twice in 1 John 1:2-4: “This life has been revealed, and we have seen it, and now we testify that we proclaim to you the eternal life, which is with the Father and has appeared to us. – We declare to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us, which fellowship we have with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. We write these things to you, May our joy be fulfilled.” (Hong Kong version)

In this passage, John encourages the church to continue “fellowship.” Christians should have fellowship. When people "see" the life of Christ and bear witness to the eternal life that is with God the Father and has appeared to them, they will naturally live a life of fellowship in Christ. On the other hand, if people "cannot see" the life of Christ and do not bear witness to the eternal life that is with God the Father and has appeared to them, they will naturally not live a life of fellowship in Christ. This is a natural outcome.

Such fellowship must be related to Jesus Christ. 1 John 5:20: “We also are in Him who is true, His Son Jesus Christ.” This is a kind of faith in Jesus Christ. Then, Christian fellowship is not just a random combination of some people, it is not just the emotional attachment between people, but a deep fellowship in Christ. In this relationship, people belong to each other (compare 1 John 3:23-24) and can experience "the fullness of joy."

From another perspective, fellowship(koinonia)It is the union between man and God and between man and man. Fellowship is both vertical and horizontal. These two dimensions bring people together in a common life in Christ.

After we understand the meaning of fellowship, we can think about why we care about the meaning of "spiritual fellowship."

What is caring? Care refers to a spiritual fellowship we enjoy in Jesus Christ, not just one-on-one care or one-on-one psychotherapy. This kind of spiritual fellowship in Christ is a caring work that every Christian must do, and it is every Christian's vocation. When we were baptized and emerged from the water, God has called us to become priests to perform priestly functions and exercise priestly rights. That is: all believers can contact God and can offer sacrifices directly to God without the need for intermediaries (such as priests, pastors, etc.); every Christian must bear witness to God’s words, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and lead people to the Lord; Every Christian is called to pray for others, to use prayer to watch over those in need, to share their hardships, and to use God’s Word to comfort them and support them through their trials.

In short, caring is the vocation of all Christians. Caring is not the sole responsibility of the pastor. Caring is also done by the brothers and sisters in the church. It is done by you and us together. When caring for others, we all believe that only God is man’s solution and spiritual satisfaction.

2. Prayer Is the Most Crucial Part of Care

As mentioned above, we are all priests, called by God to help those in need with prayer. We often think that only those who have received training in psychological counseling and therapy are qualified to do caring work. A preacher once told me that he did a good job in coordinating work, but he was not trained in caring. I encouraged him and told him that he could use prayer to care for others. Although most of us have not received professional training in caring and counseling, we can still do caring work. We can invite and lead others to pray to God together, express our needs to Heavenly Father like children, and plead for Heavenly Father’s mercy and help.

Prayer does not need to use gorgeous words, or expressions similar to sermons, nor does it need to use eye-catching words, or go through rigorous logical thinking. It only needs to sincerely lead people in need to talk to God and fellowship with God. . In prayer, we can ask God questions—how should we face difficulties? What significance does this disease have for us to understand? Can it be cured? We also need to think carefully – what does God have to do with this suffering? What did God say to us through this incident? We lead people in need to pray to God sincerely and wait for God’s will. This is the mystery of prayer.

Pastor Mai is a theologian. Once she attended a lecture and listened to the speaker discussing the relationship between prayer and healing. The speaker emphasized that prayer can initiate a healing process without necessarily bringing about dramatic results. Later in this lecture, attendees also learned to lay hands on and pray for different patients. Pastor Mai sat among the crowd, and everyone surrounded her, laying hands on her and praying for her. Due to limited space, some people could not lay their hands on her directly, but could only lay their hands on other praying persons. This laying on of hands for prayer gave her a profound experience: she had a warm feeling in her soul, and then she was very excited and felt that the darkness in her heart was being pulled out. She couldn't help but cry. She cried for ten minutes and felt that her whole body was lighter.

Although Pastor Mai had doubts about this healing method in the past, this time she truly experienced fellowship with God and fellowship with people. Later, if she gets sick, she will still go to the doctor for treatment and take medicine, but she will ask people to pray for her and also pray for others. She believes that prayer is not a tool or a means, and does not require repeated words. She thinks that God will listen to her if she speaks more. Prayer is real. Through prayer we have fellowship with God. We come to God like children and beg Him for help, for enough food every day, for healing, and for God to continue our lives. This kind of prayer can make us deeply understand that prayer is not a means or a tool; it is not us controlling God through prayer, but God Himself giving human beings spiritual and spiritual health according to His timetable. Knowing God and having fellowship with God is eternal life. Although we may not necessarily know how to counsel, when we care for those in need, we can still perform the duties of priests, leading them to prostrate themselves before God in prayer, handing over their problems and needs to God, and God will comfort and heal them in prayer.

I also remembered a wonderful prayer experience I had. In April 2008, I went through a journey of rethinking the direction of my ministry. During this period, a friend who was the dean of a seminary prayed for me silently for forty days without letting me know. During this period of ups and downs, God guided me step by step on many difficult-to-decision matters. When I didn’t know how to make a decision, God supported me and led me through it. I feel like I have experienced the Lord’s wonderful salvation all over again, so much so that in church or prayer meetings, I will say to my friends and students: “I feel like I have been reborn and saved now, as if I have gone back in time, and have the same real feeling as when I first believed in the Lord. !” In October of the same year, I went to Taipei to attend a theological conference, which was attended by many deans and provosts of Chinese seminaries in Southeast Asia. One night, I was walking with my friend the dean who prayed for me. He shyly told me that he had prayed for me for forty days. I asked him when he prayed for me, and he answered that it was April, which was exactly the time when I was thinking about the direction of my ministry. After hearing this, I was extremely moved. I was moved by this friend’s sincere love and care, and I was moved by God’s mercy! A brother who is not around can "actually" support my life with prayer. This is the mystery of prayer! This is spiritual fellowship, the power experienced by those who pray.

Prayer is the practice of community care. Ask God to help us experience more of this kind of care, and help us remember that care is not only the professional job of pastors, but also the bounden duty of brothers and sisters in the church, and their bounden duty as priests. When people care and pray in this way, they have fellowship with God and with others. In this relationship, people belong to each other and can experience "joyful fulfillment."

I deeply hope that the preachers trained by Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary will understand this mystery. I pray that God will help every student and every alumni, remind them to always keep prayer in mind on their journey of service, and lead the church to experience this kind of mystery. Mystery.

May 2015

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