Cinda Marturano, January 27, 2007—-Westminster Theological Seminary, Counseling in the Local Church class;
My first thought of the day is connected to my heart; “Lord, I’m being drawn by you to encounter you today and be close to you through the Holy Spirit. You approached me, belong to me and are with me today. I am yours and you are mine. We are a part of something together. Bless you, Bless me.” Is this a dream mode or a special place where we meet our God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit? Is He really “there” for us?
The fact that God makes Himself known to us in prayer is something that I want to share with other believers. Over the years of my Christian life I have experienced prayer in many different ways and modes; personally, in small groups, in large settings, corporately, and in conferences of thousands. One of the most honorable ways to pray is alone as Matthew 6:6 tell us to “go into your room, pray to your Father who is unseen…and He will reward you.” This time of prayer alone has its purpose as does praying in twos and threes.
Prayer can be a means to grow in faith with in the body of Christ and in the Redemptive community God desires for us to have. In groups, we can “do” prayer in many ways.
Establishing Prayer and Encouragement Partners (PAE) “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”Matthew 18:20;
I see a need for established and organized prayer and encouragement partners (PAE) who will in essence be “peer counselors” within small groups, ministries and bible studies. This idea is nothing new, but an often missed need of commitment to each other. Through prayer and accountability, relationships will strengthen, supporting the bedrock of Christ’s church, His people. Peer counselors admonish each other, equally. There is not a counselor/client relationship as traditional counseling takes place.
Why is prayer and encouragement so important to us believers? Our heart attitude is dictated by Ephesians 4:2:
“Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Built up and mature, we reach fullness of Christ and desire progressive sanctification so we can have oneness in Christ, the unity of believers. We also need to call on our Father with a sincere heart out of our need, knowing that He is available, accessible and willing and waiting to help us. Together, in pairs of two or three, we can uphold each other’s burdens, speak to God in the unity of the Spirit and know each other well. This is redemptive community in action and interaction with God.
Meeting together to pray is a way to be understood and to understand your partner with an obvious and desired called presence of the Holy Spirit, our true comforter. This peer counseling is supported through Christ and by others. We witness change as our heart attitude learns to be humble and gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love. Jesus’ truths will reign as we live it out.
Inception and Facilitation of Prayer and Encouragement Partners (PAE)
Prayer is for everyone in the church. Yet many will not want to participate as a PAE. With the understanding that some with the gift of “faith” can strengthen another through this type of partnering, it will increasingly aide in biblical peer counseling. It will allow for a “new” method to add some fresh air to assist in the changing of hearts for all involved. We will pray and counsel the word together.
Let us take Jesus’ example of prayer in John 17:20-23 to heart:
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.“
We are under Christ Jesus alone with our spiritual gifts of faith and encouragement and in the Lord when we love each other in a concrete way through spending time praying with and for another. Who are your PAE partners? We have drawn near to God and He is nearer to us because Jesus is here with us as our ultimate Counselor.