Prayer and Bridge Building

I run several days each week. Several of my routes include a half-mile-long paved trail that includes a bridge over a creek near the small waterfalls from which the creek and the trail derive their names: Angel Falls. Bridges enable us to cross canyons and rivers. They help us to reach destinations that might otherwise be unattainable.

Angel Falls Creek Bridge


Metaphorical bridges also help us reach otherwise unattainable, or at least difficult to visit, destinations. In Genesis 28, Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching from heaven to earth on which he sees angels ascending and descending. He awakens with a fearful awareness of the presence of God and prays a memorable prayer of petition in which he attempts to bargain with God. The ladder in the dream was a bridge between heaven and earth.


Prayer, too, is a bridge that we cross in our attempts to draw nearer to God. As we pray, we often also intercede for others, praying that they may overcome the issues that keep them antagonistic towards God and towards other people. We pray that they may find the bridge over those spiritual chasms. In Philippians chapter one, the apostle Paul describes his prayers for the Christians in Philippi:


“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with oy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6).


Near the end of that same letter, the apostle pleads with two women to “be of the same mind in the Lord” and asks another Christian to help these women “since they contented by my side in the cause of the gospel” (Philippians 4:1-3). He wanted their partnership with him and with one another in serving Christ to endure. He prayed that they might be able to bridge any spiritual or personal gap that may have arisen among them or between them and God. Paul acts as a minister of reconciliation and calls other Christians to do the same, to be “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20-6:3) and to be, and to call others to be, reconciled to Christ. Although he does not use the terminology, he calls for bridge-building in relationships with God and others.


We sometimes find it easier to build walls that divide us from others rather than to build a bridge that unites us. Sometimes a wall that protects from a clear danger is needed. But walls can outlive their usefulness or divide unnecessarily. Paul reminds in Ephesians 2 that Christ has destroyed the “dividing wall of hostility…to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross” (Ephesians 2:14-16). Christ makes peace and helps humanity to bridge what divides us from God and from one another.


Let’s pray that we may build bridges that unite and that help people draw closer to God and to one another. Let’s appraise our actions and attitudes. Do we encourage peace or do we stoke the fires of anger with incendiary arguments and name-calling? Sometimes we fear to cross a bridge because we feel more at home where we are, don’t trust the bridge, or fear what is on the other side. Let’s cross the bridge of salvation into the presence of God together.


• Quotations from the Bible are from the New International Version


God, you loved the world so much that you sent your son that he could shine the light of your love so that we might discern the path that leads out of darkness. Our anger, greed, selfishness, and pride divide us and widen the distance also between you and us. Open our eyes as we read your Word that we may see clearly the way that your son, the pioneer of our faith, has blazed. Help us to build bridges as ministers of reconciliation, to live in ways that draw people together in service to you. Thank you for your love and your patience. Forgive us and help us to follow more faithfully. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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1 Response to Prayer and Bridge Building

  1. Grace Day says:

    Loved this post, really identified with it. I think you might like some of my bridge posts from this month at http://www.mtothe5th.wordpress.com; such as “today’s prayer – a bridge”, “the burning and building of bridges”, “a bridge too far” and there are others. Thank you for this post, sincerely, Grace Day

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