Grounded in Prayer

As a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I have to admit that I’m glued to my computer this week. I’m watching the live feed from our Churchwide Assembly being held in Pittsburgh, August 12th – 17th. The Assembly is voting on a number of important items, not the least of which is the election of both a Presiding Bishop and a Secretary.

One of the things that impresses me, and gives me hope, about the way we conduct our church business is the fact that prayer precedes every single vote. All human action is halted and prayers are lifted asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Only then is a vote taken.

It strikes me that this practice should occur in all of our faith communities before we vote on anything. Over the years, I’ve attended council and congregational meetings where there were heated debates. When the debate was closed the group went straight to the vote. Then people fumed until they found out who “won”. But there is a very different feeling when you have a heated debate and you go straight to prayer. I know, because I have been a voting member at two Churchwide Assemblies since the birth of the ELCA. I’ve witnessed debates and when they are followed by prayer something happens. The mood and feeling of the room change.

Prayer grounds a gathering in our corporate faith, not in our personal opinion. It’s a reminder that we have been called together to serve Christ’s church. It’s not about us and our personal agendas. It’s about how we can best witness to Christ in a world desperately in need of healing and wholeness.

As spiritual leaders we need to ground all of our personal and corporate actions in prayer. Always.