Context sensitive prayer is, well, prayer which is sensitive to the context you’re in. For example, when driving down the road and I see an ambulance fly by with lights flashing, siren blaring, I pull over to let them pass and say a short prayer for wherever they are going and to whomever they are going to treat. When I see a car in the ditch or an accident on the side of the road, I say a short prayer for those in involved. The prayer is sensitive to the context that is going on.
But what about larger contexts? This can be a bit tricky.
Many of us have learned that prayer is about us. Which in many ways it is. I’ve blogged about it before (I’d post a link, but there are a number of them and I’m too lazy to go back through and find them all). Prayer is about communicating with God, building up our relationship with Him, and growing and changing through prayer.
And this is so true.
But prayer moves beyond us.
It belongs to the context of which we are in.
And we are in a very large context, larger than we realize sometimes.
Many times in prayer, we focus on ourselves. We bring our wants, our desires, our concerns, our worries, our frustrations, our anxieties before God. And this is what we’re supposed to do (see Philippians 4:6-7). But we are to also expand upon that.
In this ever growing world, it has become every shrinking. As we look at this vast globe we stand upon, we see how small it has become over the last decade, let alone last five years. News from the other side of the world pops up as an alert on my phone 24/7. We receive news feeds and tweets from people around the world with one simple click. The world is at our finger tips, and all we do is look at videos of cats on YouTube (which, to tell the truth, are really fun to watch, especially the one with the big cats like lions and tigers).
We live in a context now that we hear of the news of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the brutality that they are doing there to women, children, and ethnic and religious minorities. We hear about the tension between Ukraine and Russia that has now gone on for almost a year.
And, more sadly, we hear on our TVs the news of racism, of oppression, of violence, of misunderstandings left unchecked and unspoken for decades erupting in anger and destruction.
We can see the statistics on the news of those who are unemployed (and the pundints who state that the unemployment rate has gone down because people have just given up looking for work and aren’t being reported). We see the struggles of the everyday person around us.
This is the context in which we live. In our home towns, in our own counties, in our own states, in our country, and all around the world.
And this is the context in which we must pray in.
How though? How do we pray context sensitive prayers? How do we pray prayers that are sensitive to the context we’re in?
Start at the beginning. Start where you’re at.
Begin by looking at the people around you. Look at the people you are friends with on Facebook. Look at the people in your Twitter feed. Look at your neighbor next door. Pray for them. You don’t have to know their needs (though some people love to post their needs [and drama] online…a lot). Begin to pray for them. Then pray for those whom you just don’t get along with. Pray that your heart is changed. Pray that your attitude towards them is changed.
Pray then for your community, find out what needs might be in your community, in your town, in your county itself. And ask God how you might live out this prayer. How you might be used by God for Him to answer this prayer through you.
Pray for your state governor and legislators (if you live in the States that is…otherwise pray for your local officials, province leaders, etc). And then pray for the president and congress (if you live in the States that is…other places, pray for your national leaders). Pray for the country, pray for healing, pray for reconciliation.
I pray repeatedly for the tensions going on between ethnic and racial lines and what they have experienced. I have prayed and struggled to confess my own sin of racism as well. It is something we struggle with.
What is your context in which you pray? How can you be sensitive to the context around you?
Try to practice context sensitive prayer today and see how you can be sensitive to your context while you pray. It’ll be amazing at how more sensitive to the needs of the context you’re in you will be.