In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, Richard Foster discusses different "types" of prayer, including the "Prayer of Suffering."
I came across this as I was remembering to prayer for many in the congregation who experience suffering as a regular part of their daily living. Some struggle with the aging process, others with financial stresses, some with illnesses, many with wayward family members and friends. I don't have to worry about whether or not you feel as though I'm talking about you--because no matter who you are... I am talking about you. We all have dealt with suffering--some it seems more than others; but suffering is common enough that we all know something of what it is.
But do we all know something of the "Prayer of Suffering?" Are we prepared to direct our suffering and the suffering of others to God. Foster reminds us that suffering (on behalf of ourselves and others) is a significant part of our conversation with God. He suggests that we should not ask, "Why is there suffering in the world?" but "How do I enter into the suffering that is in the world in a way that is redemptive and healing."
We may forget that suffering is redemptive--but the core of our story is the redemption we receive in Christ through his Suffering on our behalf. And so if we who are "Christian" are "little Christs" and Jesus, the suffering redeemer lives in us... if we who are called "Church" are in fact the Body of Christ... How can we become redemptive and healing agents in the suffering of the world? How do you channel your suffering and the suffering of others onto God?