What if praying were as contagious as the swine flu?
What if praying were as contagious as the swine flu? My newspaper, South Bend Tribune (10-7-09), did a piece (replete with graphics), tracking an imaginary family (John, Karen and Billy) through the hazardous world of the H1N1 virus. John’s feeling great, as he heads out of the office for lunch. But while he’s gone, an office worker sneezes in her hand and then picks up his phone to make a call. (66% of office viruses can survive for an hour—33% surviving for up to eighteen hours.) John lunches at a fast food joint, paying for his meal with a contaminated five dollar bill. (Flu viruses can survive for up to ten days on paper currency if someone sneezes on it.) John spends the evening with his family, unwittingly passing on to them the viruses he’s picked up from the phone and money. Billy hurries off to school the next day, contaminating his classmates. Kissing John good-bye, Karen is now a virus carrier. You get the picture. In less than 24 hours, John and Billy have come down with flu symptoms, spending three miserable days in bed and waiting to be symptom-free for another 24 hours before returning to school and work. Oh the joys of contagion! (BTW—to avoid living that story, keep the 3 C’s in mind this flu season: clean your hands with soap or a sanitizer often; cover your cough/sneezes in your sleeve—if you use your hands, wash them immediately; and contain the flu by staying at home until you’re 24 hours past your fever.) Wouldn’t it be great if praying were as contagious as sneezing . . . if whenever you prayed, those all around you caught that spirit and began praying, too? Maybe prayer is infectious! I got an email from one of our university coeds this week who told me about a prayer group that she’s started with friends at 5:30 every morning. That’s right—5:30 a.m. I won’t be surprised at all if that contagious faith in Jesus through praying spreads. Because sometimes, all some people need is an invitation from a friend or colleague to join them for a few moments of prayer. It can be that contagious. And it doesn’t have to be at 5:30 a.m. every day. It could be at noon once a week. Or at 5:30 p.m. when the office is closed for the day. It could be a Friday evening gathering with a few kindred spirits in a living room or a dorm room. And what should we pray for? Why not claim God’s promise: “I will pour upon you a spirit of grace and supplication” (Zechariah 12:10). If we banded together to seek that spirit of asking, of petitioning God, can you imagine what would happen if prayer groups sprang up all over the campus and around the community? Can you think of one reason why God wouldn’t want that spirit of prayer to be as contagious as the flu? So go ahead—spread your prayer virus—and see how many you can infect for Christ.