Why I Want to Carry Your Prayers in 2016
One of my greatest struggles (which persists to this day) as I entered the Church is that Christianity was never primarily about my personal relationship with Christ, but the Church’s union with Christ.
…just as Christ is head of the church, he himself savior of the body.” –Ephesians 5: 23
The context of this verse and many like it is that of a marital relationship between man and woman, husband and bride, Lord and Church. Verse after verse speaks of us collectively, to be one in spirit, function, faith, and hope (Ephesians 4:4, Col. 1: 18, 24,).
That we should love one another (Romans 12:10).
Pray for one another (1 Timothy 2: 1-4).
Encourage one another (1 Thess. 5: 10-11).
Endure for sake of the faith (Romans 15: 5-6).
And bear each other’s burdens (Gal 6: 2).
Love, pray, encourage, endure, bear…all for the sake of Christ and his Church, because just as we do not merely wed our spouse, but join a family, when we unite ourselves with Christ it is also with his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
In fact, Jesus qualifies our entry into Paradise not by faith alone, but how we’ve applied that faith in our thoughts, words, and deeds by grace. (Matthew 25: 31-46, James 2: 14-17).
I am a private, quiet, selfish man by nature. I wanted an exclusive faith and discipline, not a family with which to participate in the great struggle toward holiness by grace.
Not my will, Father, but yours.
And so as I entered the Church, I’ve increasingly immersed in a life of service and prayer, although my body and mind scream against the effort. God also places gifts within us, given in trust, that we might use them for the glory of God and the good of humanity. In my recently discovered love of endurance racing and a life wrought with trials of patience, I’ve come to understand that these gifts are not for my exclusive enjoyment, but for the benefit of the faithful.
I can endure where others might falter, and so I must, by His grace, and for His glory.
In fact it was during a recent 26.2 mile ruck through the mountains with a 25 lbs pack that I discovered the efficacy of intercessory prayer, because I could have rucked that marathon for myself, but instead–knowing my pride–I offered any suffering I might endure, the entire trial, as a prayer of petition for the salvation of a young man.
I prayed as if the outcome of the prayer depended upon God, but I hiked as if it depended upon me, thus “joining my suffering with Christ” (Col. 1: 24) for the sake of the Kingdom. Six hours and 6,000 feet later, I fell to me knees and understood that I could not have performed such a feat on my own, but prayed aloud for that young man until my voice and legs failed.
Thus, the saint is perfected in finding joy in his suffering on behalf of God and Church, that like Christ he finds no shame in his cross, but bears it as the path to Paradise in union with his beloved Lord.
And so I know I am meant for endurance, called to the rugged road of prayer. As an endurance athlete, I spend a lot of time and miles on trails and roads, often hours at a time, and because God has given me the joy of the run, I would like to return that gift in service to Him and His Church.
If you need prayer, I want to pray for and with you “without ceasing” during my weekly run training and race events. I will call to our Lord for the duration of the run, presenting your petition in a spirit of unity.
This is my resolution for 2016: that I might further decrease so that Christ might increase, and join you in your burdens. Allow me to join you in storming heaven with prayer. If you want me to join you in prayer, please email me at contactandrewbowen[at]gmail.com or message me on Facebook.by