I've been praying a lot lately for the families of St. Mary's the suburban Houston parish where I serve. I've been particularly praying about how the parish can best serve them, and how I can serve them as their priest. Monday night I'd joined Momtime, a Monday night fellowship for mothers of all ages, and I came home with my mind busy with prayer requests and thoughts. Right before I was ready to go to sleep, something led me to pick up my iphone and go to the app for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.
Even though it was past time to go to sleep (I left Momtime past 10, and I understand the conversation lasted into the hours of the next morning), I began scrolling through the various news items, and saw a notice for a lunch at St. Martin's on Thursday, three days hence. What piqued my interest was that it was called a Faith Summit for a week of prayer and service for our children and youth. I went to the link that showed the prayer guide for daily intercession for the children of Houston, and I was even more curious.
The next day, I sent an email out to the moms of St. Mary's and our prayer group, the Daughters of the King, inviting them to go with me. I knew it was short notice, but I offered to pay their way and to pay their child care costs. I wanted them to know that I was going on their behalf even if they couldn't rearrange their schedules to join me.
This is the third annual faith summit and week of prayer for children and youth. Because of the tremendous cuts to educational funding in the state of Texas, this year all of the prayer power is focused on issues of children and education. Some local non-profits which serve children and youth as well as communities of faith sponsor this endeavor. What makes this prayer week different is that it's focused on needs of our local community. Children at Risk, a Houston research and advocacy group, provides specific information of tangible needs.
I'm inviting all of the people of the parish where I serve to this seven days of prayer for the children and youth who are our neighbors. If we think these neighbors are far away, in the affluent area where I serve, the Cypress area, over 50% of the children served by Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District, the third largest school district in the state of Texas, are eligible for free lunch.
Don't take my word for it. Go do a little surfing and pondering yourself. What I especially like about the prayer guide is that after it's given us a prayer focus for the day, it gives us some specific facts about the needs for the children and youth in our area followed by specific prayers that we can use if we wish. What I like the best, however, is after the prayer is the response: Can we be the answer? We are then given specific ways for us to be the answer to prayer.
To bring this important piece of response home, one speaker talked about the importance of God's people to be faithful in prayer. The speaker reminded us that when we got up off of our knees (either literally or metaphorically) at the end of prayer, we were then standing . This is the posture to go and be an answer to our prayer.
So if you are willing to be an answer, will you join me in prayer this week?
Two men of St. Mary's, being an answer to prayer as they resurface St. Mary's playground, a place to play for St. Mary's children as well as the children of our neighborhood.