Spirit Alive: Prayer Matters

Spirit Alive is a weekly blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
January 19, 2016

With Heart, Soul, and Mind

"Prayer is a living and dynamic activity. It can be-- should be-- an adventure.
Carolyn Stahl Bohler
Prayer proceeds ministry. Prayer is ministry. Prayer flows out of ministry.
Participating in the 24-hour Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Prayer Vigil, which kicked off 131 days of global prayer for the UMC General Conference in Portland in May 2016, was a very powerful experience. During it, nearly 100 people from Oregon-Idaho signed up to pray in fifteen minute intervals from 12AM to 11:59PM on December 31. For me, this was a rich time to be aware of the power that is released into our world whenever prayer becomes a conscious part of our community life and global connections.
Here's what Rev. Tim Overton-Harris, pastor of Vermont Hills UMC, said about his experience of this prayer vigil as he started us all off at midnight: "As I settled in on the eve of News Year's Eve and prepared to pray for General Conference I found myself moved in unexpected ways. Mostly I felt a deep need to connect with God as we entered into this new year, new quadrennium, and what will possibly be a new or very different understanding of ourselves as United Methodist....We need God's presence and God's direction both as the hosts and as members of a denomination facing a new world of challenges and possibilities"
During my early morning shift, I came to the conclusion that...
If I've prayed for you
in the middle of the night,
how can you be a stranger when you come into my community?
This unique prayer experience made it clear to me that being a host begins long before anyone even sets foot on our soil. In fact, it involves far more than the preparations. It also means actively praying for our guests. You see, when our friends arrive in Portland in May, they should already know that they have been thought about, loved, and cared for in prayer, long before they board any plane in their homeland and arrive here for General Conference.
The prayer vigil made me think about all the people who have already been involved in this upcoming venture from around the world...individuals who have been concerned about electing, preparing, and sending their delegates here. It made me think about the families that will be saying goodbye to loved ones in the spring, so that they can come to Portland for two weeks to do church business. I thought about the responsibilities, anxieties, sacrifices,and preparations that are a part of being entrusted with the decisions of the United Methodist Church.
I thought about the individuals in the other annual conferences around the world who, like us, will be engaged in their own 24-hour prayer vigil for General Conference in the coming days.
I thought about those in the Greater Northwest Area and beyond, who will be responsible for hosting our brothers and sisters here in our community.
Without question, prayer is an important and crucial part of our ministry of hospitality and love...and our prayers need to continue in the days ahead as we prepare ourselves to welcome our brothers and sisters to this part of God's creation.
May our guests be transformed by our prayerful love and welcome.
May we be changed by their presence among us.
And may God's spirit be released in new and powerful ways because we have met
as brothers and sisters in Christ's love.
Blessings on your journey,
Spirit Alive is a weekly blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. It seeks out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities.

Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org