The gospel reading for this coming Sunday is John 17:20-26 and it deals with the themes of belief and unity in the lives of the believers in Jesus. When I think of when I've been most impressed with Christians, it's been when they take what they believe, are united by what they share and take action to serve others. It might sound trite, but the song "They will know we are Christians by our love.", comes to mind.
One thing essential for such a miraculous thing as unity to occur is prayer. Without prayer we all just float along on good intentions and unattainable ideals. Prayer is the spiritual practice that keeps us together in unity. Prayer could be described as spiritual rubber cement. Or in this case...a high five for unity.
Let me explain.
Image from Catholicchalifax.org
If prayer is so important, why is it so difficult to practice at times? I think some feel they don't have the right words to say or the plan of how to go about it. Years ago, someone taught me a prayer exercise that is very helpful, does not require a seminar, and is as close to you as your hand. Actually, it uses each digit on your hand to explain a different point of prayer...
Five Finger Prayer
1.Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."
2.The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.
4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.
5.And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinky should remind you to pray for yourself.
By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
(From Ins. words of Wisdom)
This "Five finger Prayer" is a simple way for me to remember how simple prayer can be to make a part of my daily life. Unity is a goal worthy of working and praying towards. The five finger prayer can bring people together in faith, community, love, unity and prayer. Now that is a high five!
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."