Praying for Grace: Embracing the Spirit in Every Encounter

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash. Praying for Grace: Embracing the Spirit in Every Encounter by Jeff McLain.
Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on what it means to effectively pray for those I work alongside. I have also been considering the profound impact prayer may have or does have on the interactions we have with the guests we walk alongside. First, out of these reflections and considerations I have developed a framework from the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) to more holistically pray for the spiritual journey of our guests. However, I also have been looking at what it means to pray before meeting with our guests to orient our one-on-one sessions with deeper spiritual engagement, aiming to embody what it means to be present and fully surrendered to what God is doing. 

For those who don't know, I work for Water Street Mission, an organization in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that has focused on advancing the kingdom of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ and by doing missionary, relief, and rescue work of all kinds. I serve as the Director of Pastoral Ministries, and in addition to providing spiritual care, I facilitate our spiritual classes, chapel, and chapel partner program. We have a residential and emergency shelter program, and those who utilize these programs are not our clients but our guests. 

This second framework of prayer is about more intentionally interceding for the interactions I have with our guests. My aim is to engage with them wholeheartedly, with integrity and honor, ensuring I am fully present, actively listening, genuinely helpful, and guided by the Spirit during our one-on-one sessions. These prayers are for a greater sense of commitment and reflect my desire to provide meaningful support and guidance to each individual who crosses my path. If you have ever been in charge of one-on-one meetings, you know that it can sometimes be challenging to embody qualities like being present, love, discernment, humility, attentive listening, boldness or gentleness, patience, wisdom, openness of heart, and a welcoming demeanor in each and every meeting or session. 

These 12 prayers are a framework that is designed to center and actualize what it means to be fully attentive and fully surrendered to what God is doing at that moment. 
  • “God, you are ever present; help me be fully present with this soul, in this space, at this time." [1]
  • "God, you love this soul; help me mirror your love, and help me love them well." [2]
  • "God, you are at work in this soul; help me see where you are working." [3]
  • "God, you know all, and I do not know all, nor must I, so speak in, with, and through me." [4]
  • "God, you are quick to listen, so help me truly hear what is being communicated." [5]
  • "God, you are not quick to speak; help me say only what needs to be said, and may I say it to this soul with gentleness or boldness, as needed." [6]
  • "God, you are slow to anger; help me avoid apathy, anger, or annoyance when I hear something this soul has done, shares, or plans to do." [7]
  • "God, you hold all wisdom; help me be wise, pure, peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere in my motives with this soul." [8]
  • "God, you are ever-knowing; may your Spirit speak through me and give me words." [9]
  • "God, your scriptures are alive and active; reveal the scripture in this meeting that will disclose thoughts and attitudes of the heart and equip, teach, rebuke, correct, and train." [10]
  • "God, you are God; soften this soul to receive your wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and instruction, and may worshipful reverence consume our hearts." [11]
  • "God, through Jesus, you offer rest; let this weary and burdened soul hear Jesus’ invitation to rest, surrender their yoke for yours, and experience your gentleness.” [12]
The use of soul in these prayers is meant to remind me of the eternal and ongoing reality of this individual's journey and identity. I invite you to ponder, what prayers might you pray, before an interaction with someone you meet with? Embracing what it means to intercede for spiritual connection and meaningful engagement with those we serve can recenter our sessions and transform our focus. May our prayers bring about a beacon of hope and transformation in the lives of those we meet with, and may we always be vessels of God's grace and mercy.

[1] Matthew 18:20
[2] 1 John 3:16-18
[3] Philippians 1:6
[4] 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
[5] James 1:19
[6] James 1:19
[7] James 1:19
[8] James 3:17
[9] Mark 13:11
[10] Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
[11] Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 2:2-
[12] Matthew 11:28-30

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