a call to prayer

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In my church tradition, a call to worship or call to prayer usually takes the form of some sort of greeting or direction. Occasionally there is a Scripture reading or a specific prayer directive, then the leader prays before the congregation, inviting the members into worship and prayer collectively. It’s a sign, verbal or otherwise, signifying that the designated corporate prayer and worship time has begun.

In my personal faith tradition, calls to prayer take a different form daily. So I’ve been thinking about those things which serve as “calls to prayer” over the course of my days and weeks.

When my daughter creeps across the dark house in the wee small hours of the morning to awaken me from my slumber to tell me that she’s pretty sure there’s a dinosaur in our grass outside and I cannot believe I am having to go over the Morning Time Rules For Reasonable Waking Hours again — I am called to pray: prayers of gratitude for the healthy, creative, imaginative girl we have the joy of raising.

When I sit in the fuzz of early hours, coffee on my lap and feet tucked under the blanket, wondering why I bother — I am called to pray to the God whose breath filled up my lungs when I rolled over in the night and whose exhales are sustaining me even in that moment.

When I scroll the news and feel that I can’t stomach one more ounce of rage-fueled rhetoric from a public whose outrage meter is grossly overcorrecting (under-correcting?) - I face a call to prayer for the loudest voices on the social feeds, and for the voiceless, the fearful, the repressed, the overlooked, the mistreated. A call to pray that for God’s sake His church would start acting like who they are.

When I see people begin to engage the difficult tensions and paradoxes of a life of faith, it’s a call to prayer and to remembrance. Have I not wondered at the mysteries of the gospel? Have I not questioned His very presence? Have I not climbed timidly onto my own small soapboxes, with all the confidence the young have, and made claims of certainty and of despair? I have walked those roads and still walk them, yet the tension of paradox is no longer the enemy. It is a call to prayer.

It is a call to prayer when I see a marriage crumble under the weight of unspoken expectations and layers of secret sin - a call to pray for the brokenhearted there and those caught in the ripple effects of sin; a call to pray for my own marriage and husband; a call to pray that the Bride of Christ would not reject or miss the coming Bridegroom in her attempt to beautify herself with the zeitgeist of our my-truth world.

When the lights in the house are all left on (and I know it wasn’t me!) and the electric bill will show it - a call to prayer, with thankfulness for my home.

When the week is packed with interruptions and my list didn’t get checked off - a call to prayer, with open hands for what God may do through the interruptions.

When my toddler doesn’t nap again how is this possible that he’s already dropping naps - a call to prayer, to worship the God who fashioned this healthy boy and brought Him to our family.

When my dearests are suffering by no fault of their own and the well seems dry - a call to prayer, for the intervening provision of God to show up and for the compassion of God to overwhelm.

When I am simply sick or weary or wondering - a call to prayer.

When I am feeling deep empathy for friends who are struggling to understand - a call to prayer.

When I hold in my hands the frustrating mystery of the gospel of Christ and all the cross-carrying, sacrificial, laying-down-my-life that accompanies transformation into the image of the Son - a call to prayer.

And I don’t even have to know what to say — what grace!

‘Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ‘
— Romans 8:26-27

The mystery of the indwelling life of Christ is in part expressed when I see every corner of my day as an escort into His presence. A call to confess my union with Christ, my hope in His return, and my confidence in Him through the act of prayer. Wordless and weeping, tense and fraught, enthusiastic and verbose…however the prayers leave my lips or pen, the invitation is mine: meet with Me, daughter. Learn to see these pangs of earth-dwelling, these dashed hopes and interruptions as invitations into my Presence.

A call to prayer, then.

May I have Spirit-eyes to see the call and willing hands and words to answer it.




Designing stuff is not really my “thing”, exactly, but I went for it this time anyway. Below you’ll find two downloadable “Call to Prayer” pages - click the button to download the one you want, and print so that you can make note of the many ways you are invited by your Father to pray during your days! If you’re a big swoopy writer, the vertical page may be for you. The horizontal page would be great for folding and tucking into your Bible or prayer journal!

sarah sandelComment