Have you ever heard the way an idea is phrased and thought "I’ve got to remember that"? I have, and then gone right out and forgotten it! I heard something recently, however, that I hope I can hang onto, and maybe it’s something you’d like to remember too.
It was one of those rare days when I was able to sit in church with my wife, Shirley, and one of my sons just to listen and learn instead of having to speak. Before the sermon someone got up to read a fairly long list of announcements that were in an already distributed bulletin, and I anticipated being slightly bored.
However, the man who delivered the announcements had a lively and friendly voice, and you could not help but listen. He referred to a couple who had just gotten engaged, and congratulated them on behalf of the congregation. He then said that he and others would pray for the couple "with great interest."
The phrase struck me immediately. "Praying with great interest."
Sometimes mine are sleepy-time prayers where I list all kinds of concerns to God between yawns and glances at a list I may have prepared. Or there are long silences during which I try to remember something that I think I should mention to God, and then get distracted by other thoughts.
It’s more like praying out of duty or habit than "praying with great interest." I am barely interested in what I’m saying myself, and yet I expect God to be riveted by each stumbling word I utter. Of course, God our Father listens to us anyway—what a great God he is!
Praying with great interest. What could it mean? I think it must mean that I am interested in the outcome of whatever the situation is. That this prayer is not just about my wishes and struggles, but also about others and what they may need or desire. It’s about telling God that I’m concerned about someone else and about what may happen in that person’s life. Showing interest is an expression of love. Praying with interest stresses to God that we care for those we pray about.
Next time we act on prayer announcements or make intercession for someone, why not be specific and pray "with great interest"? It’s something worth remembering!
At the time this was written, James Henderson,
was superintendent of African missions
for the Worldwide Church of God; he is
now the National Director in the U.K.