To give you a sense of how things have changed since Mom and I were teenagers, here’s a part of the lyrics to a hit song by Anne Murray. All the Top 10 radio stations played it, and other artists such as Loretta Lynn, Joan Baez, and Elvis Presley put out their versions of the song. You can hear the song here on YouTube (https://youtu.be/SY-2XHqKGuw) or just read the chorus and one of the verses.
Put Your Hand In The Hand (1970)
Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water;
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea.
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently,
By putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.
Every Time I look into the holy book I wanna tremble
When I read about the part where the carpenter cleared the temple
For the buyers and the sellers were no different fellers than what I profess to be,
And it causes me shame to know I’m not the gal that I should be.
Things sure have changed since then. One of the most significant shifts in Western culture is the shift away from focusing on personal character (e.g., a handshake was as valid as a contract) and daily seeking Jesus, so let’s go back, way back. Let’s go back before Elvis, before the dominance of Western culture, all the way back to one of the earliest Christian handbooks, circa 60 AD, – the Didache (it is not to be considered equal to Scripture ). Here’s what it says in passages 8.2 and 8.3:
8.2 And do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in the gospel: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us enough bread day-by-day. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.Didache
8:3 Pray this three times each day.
When these Christians prayed they stood with outstretched arms, palms turned upward, and their heads lifted towards heaven. I think these Didache-era Christians knew their physical posture was prophetic. As a Christian, I know that there’s more going on in this world than what I see. Christianity is supernatural (e.g., God Created) and requires the supernatural for us to be saved (e.g., By grace you are saved, through faith).
So, when I pray, as the early Christians prayed, I am confident that I’m reaching out to other Christians around the world. I know this because “The Lord’s Prayer” says “us.” I can’t speak the words of Jesus and be alone. As I pray I am holding your hands and hands of Christians in Peru and Christians in Russia and Christians in Ghana; all around the world together we speak the words Jesus spoke, honoring God the Father, in the presence of Jesus (Mt. 18:20), spiritually bonded by the Holy Spirit. It is a prayer from, with, and to the Triune God (i.e., Father, Son, Holy Spirit). It is miraculous and it is real.
Spiritually connecting with Christians around the world is meaningful. I’m alive with His very words, in me, through me, and with others, as we commune with the Father. We easily see this value within communal singing, prayers, and liturgy. What I’ve discovered is that while I’m praying, often God speaks the name of a person to me for which I need to pray. It’s His will so I have confidence that the prayer will be answered if I do it. It is a ministry in the Body of Christ.
Sometimes we pray in solitude, perhaps in a closet (Matthew 6:5-6). However, there are other times available to us when we can join the 2.3 billion Christians on earth and pray together.