Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington, M. Div.

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.”  Significant to the dynamics of faith is the fact that the study of Mark’s 5th and final occurrence of Jesus’ use of /Faith’ would come forth on the week that is traditionally know by the Church as ‘Palm Sunday’.  For it is recorded in the 11th chapter which opens with the Palm Sunday narrative.  ‘The Passion’ with which Jesus responds to Peter in this faith encounter is one that must not go under estimated— “Have faith in God!… So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer,…”  (Mark 11:20-25).

With no less than six different words used in New Testament scripture for the single English translation ‘prayer’, in this text Jesus uses ‘proseuchomai’.  From it’s very first usage, ‘proseuchomai’ means ‘calling on God’— where other prayer translated words are not clear to whom the request is directed.  Those theologians who have closely regarded the various ‘prayer’ word usages have seen that ‘proseuchomai’ is a prayer that has a conscious distinction in content.  Greeven sees it’s rare usage in secular Greek and identifies it’s use strictly in Jewish influenced texts.

In my 40+ years of ministry having entered the Seminary in 1978, I was forced to come to terms with the confusion surrounding prayer in the Church.  I soon learned that as a visitor, I was always called upon, foreknown or just hearing your named called unbeknownst— to do a public Prayer.  While I think that the most mis-understood prayer is ‘The Invocation’ (even now I find myself as a single solitary individual standing in worship ‘to invoke’ and ‘to receive’ the presence of God for worship), I am confused about an order of worship that has no ‘Pastoral Prayer’.  I recently worshiped for the first time at First Baptist South Inglewood and continue to sing their Pastoral Prayer song which has the melody from ‘Blessed Assurance’ and speaks saying, “Pray your way through.  Pray your way through. God has an answer, Pray your way through!’

There is something very definitive about the man and woman of God who is seen and known as a “Prayer Warrior”.  I like the terminology because it gives meaning to the one who understand the “War” that is going on that is undisputably undefeated when placed in the realm of…Prayer!  It changes things.  Things that only the true believers can fathom.  It changes Life, in a way that can only be known when one walks away from a heart felt, sincere and ‘in Spirit and Truth’ kind of Prayer and is never the same again!  “Master…TEACH US to Pray”.

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers.” Proseuchomai’— ‘calling on God’ gets real deep in it’s meaning.  It is not a request for house, Jesus never had one; nor a petition for money of which he challenged the Church in what it has become.  ‘Proseuchomai’ means ‘calling on God’!  It is a fact of faith— the presence of God.  It is no small thing that Christians have difficulty with a public prayer.  The late great Dr. Major J. Jones said in one of his sermons, “If I had my way I would tilt the world and everything would come to me”.  Prophetic— indeed!  But are we prepared to ‘call on God’?  I think not, because when we stand in His Presence, it is total commitment to ‘His Will’— (for all the nations) not mine that shall be done.  “And lo, I will be with you, always…”

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