A few weeks ago marked the 17th anniversary of the death of Henri Nouwen. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of his book Compassion. Countless people have been inspired and have experienced the work of Jesus in their lives thanks to Nouwen’s ministry. Many of HCM International’s members have been influenced by his work. To honor these two anniversaries, I wanted to share a quote from Compassion that sums up what we do in the ministry of Formational Prayer.
“(It’s important that we) take a critical look at our understanding of compassion. The word Compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. Whenwe look at compassion this way, it becomes clear that something more is involved than a general kindness or tenderheartedness.” (p. 4)
This is the heart of healing care and Formational Prayer:
- To suffer with
- To go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain
- To share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish
- To be vulnerable with the vulnerable, powerless with the powerless
- Full immersion in the condition of being human
When we step into the ministry of Formational Prayer, we walk these things out. As Dr. Wardle says, “We get down in the ditch with someone as Jesus got down into the ditch with us.”
I believe this is the ministry of Jesus. This is the ministry that makes time to stop at a well in Samaria to bring salvation to a woman that was an outcast. It is the ministry that has time to make some mud and spread it on a man’s eyes so he can see and experience life physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is the ministry that has time to stop, look children in the eye and bless them in a culture that saw them as “less than.”
Be encouraged today that when you minister through Formational Prayer, you are doing this same ministry. It may never get noticed by the crowd or be celebrated by the masses. But to the child of God you impact, you are a life changer. You make their Abba smile, too!
May God bless you in life and ministry today.
About the Author:
Jeff is the founder and director of Being Formed Resources, which provides experientially-based spiritual formation resources, pastoral counseling, and small group ministry. He also trains people to lead formational prayer at Ashland Theological Seminary. He spent 15 years serving the church in full-time ministry before starting Being Formed. He resides in Wooster with his wife Kelly and three daughters.