“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 23:6
Each summer I am blessed to participate in Youth Force. Youth Force is a mission experience for our middle school and high school students. They spend an entire week working on homes, restoring them, so that the homeowners have a better living environment. The students complete tasks such as installing insulation, siding, and wheelchair ramps. It is amazing to see the work they accomplish by the end of the week. It is equally exciting the see the joy of the homeowners who have received such a gift.
This summer I saw something else at Youth Force that put joy in my heart. Each night the students and adults of Youth Force gather for worship. The first night of worship the camp was asked to move out of their chairs into small groups and pray for the homeowners and the community. As I stood in the middle of that room I looked around at 200 youth and adults holding hands and praying. I knew, as I looked around, I was seeing a picture of heaven.
At the end of the 23rd Psalm the psalmist reminds us of the hope we have as God’s people. We are told that we, “Shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” What a joy to know that we will always have shelter from the harsh elements of this world. But, have you ever asked what takes place in the house of the Lord? One element that is made clear in the scriptures is that the house of God will be, “A house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7) This phrase is repeated several times in the scriptures and even quoted by Jesus after he clears the temple. Prayer is a significant practice in the house of God.
The sheep of God, the children of God, are blessed with the gift of prayer. It is an opportunity to converse with God. It is an intimate dialogue with the one who leads us to green pastures, still waters, and through the valley of the shadow of death. Because the shepherd is always close to us, we should be a people who take full advantage of the gift of prayer. Prayer is an opportunity to connect our lives with the shepherd and to experience God’s loving care for us. Prayer is also an opportunity to share the loving presence of God with those we pray for.
-Rev. Keith King, Online Campus Pastor