This Friday, April 8, is a day for the Michigan Area to be in prayer for General Conference.
Every week since December 31 a different Annual Conference from around the world has been praying for delegates, for the process, for the wisdom and love of God to prevail when The Church gathers in Portland, Oregon May 10-20, 2016.
The West Michigan and Detroit conferences are partners in this effort initiated by the Council of Bishops.The entire Michigan Area joins in prayer on their assigned days. This Friday, April 8, is one of those days; the other was March 16.
Michigan’s two Directors of Connectional Ministry (DCMs), the Revs. Benton Heisler and Jerome (Jerry) DeVine suggest this pattern for prayer:
- Make the General Conference a part of meal-time prayers.
- Read and pray over Psalm 133.
- Place reminders in car, home, and workspace that encourage “prayer without ceasing.”
A second spiritual exercise, 60 Days of Prayer, is also underway guided by The Upper Room. Rev. Tom Albin, Dean of The Upper Room Chapel, invites all United Methodists to join the prayer community created for General Conference at www.60daysofprayer.org.
Visitors to that website may sign up for daily meditations that began on March 31 and end nine days after the conference closes on May 20. Meditations are available online or by signing up for a free PDF, email feed or text message.
Here is a sample Meditation for April 4 shared by Kwasi Kena, now on the faculty of Indiana Wesleyan University:
The Israelites trusted God to keep divine watch over them, a trust not available to followers of other gods. In verses 3-4 of Psalm 121, the psalmist declares that Israel’s God does not slumber or sleep. This statement stands in contrast with Israel’s neighbors who commonly believed that their gods “slept” during the winter months and revived during seasons of growth.
I slept well as the pitch-black and sticky night relaxed, freed from the cacophony of hooting car horns and the gossip of the day—until I heard the whack of wood on concrete. John, our night watchman, had just killed a poisonous viper that had slithered near the front door of our home in Ghana, West Africa. My wife, Safiyah, and I served there as missionaries. Friends had told us, “Get a night watchman to guard your house so you can sleep at night.”
I once toured the temple of another religion. It contained physical representations of the gods worshiped there and a gong. When asked the purpose of the gong, the guide replied, “We beat the gong to make sure the gods are awake.” The psalmist took every opportunity to affirm faith in the God of Israel. This God made heaven and earth. This God never slept. This God provided shade as a refuge. The belief that God could provide shade for the pilgrims indicated their belief in a huge God capable of shading them from the sun by day and the moon by night. The psalmist goes on to say that God will keep us from all evil.
What about you? Of what do you boast about God? Which of God’s characteristics do you rehearse to yourself and with others in corporate worship? Your declarations about God help you see life with the eyes of faith.
God, since you never slumber or sleep, free me from anxious nights and fearful mornings. Amen.