How do your prayers sound? Mine are usually a delicate blend of repentance, mixed with a touch of gratitude, followed by LOTS of supplication …. for MYSELF.
“LORD, please help me to do better at work. I really need to be more committed to my career..”
“LORD, my relationship…”
“LORD, please provide the resources for me to do such and such..”
“My health, LORD…”
If I feel REALLY BENEVOLENT, I’ll add a pious petition for my parents, my siblings, a friend or two, and whoever else comes to mind in diminishing order of importance.
One can imagine, therefore, that it would be inconceivable for me to pray for anything beyond myself, given my current limited scope of interest. I knew somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind (you know that place where the still, small, voice of the Holy Spirit speaks?) that there was something wrong with my prayer approach, but the pervasiveness of my self absorption wouldn’t even let me be properly convicted. I was perfectly content leaving that stone unturned as long as God would let me, but on January 1st, 2015, He said “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”
Instead of attending the annual convention of my home church, I went to “D-DAY WORLD PRAYER SUMMIT, THE VOICE OF THE LORD IN THE EARTH”. There, in the midst of Woodford Square (with sunny skies overhead and the majesty of God’s creation all around me), my comfortable, self-centered prayer life was given a rude slap in the face. Littering the square were hundreds of white plastic chairs occupied by people of all ages, all with one thing in common : a BROADER PERSPECTIVE.
These people had chosen to start the New Year seeking God on a wider plane. There they were stretching forth hands, and bowing heads in humility and surrender to God. What did they pray about? They started with repentance on behalf of the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago. They condemned corruption, violence, sexual perversion, the breakdown of the family, social injustice, and many other issues that affected us all as a community. The tenor of prayer that day was anything but selfish, myopic and limited. It stretched out to seek God for an entire country and beyond.
As I heard their prayers, I began asking myself many hard questions: “When was the last time you prayed for your leaders? When was the last time you were truly moved to prayer by a distressing article in the newspaper? When was the last time you acted out against injustice? Do you live a life of integrity, or are you defined by the same corruption that these people are praying against?”
The final thought that impressed itself upon me stunned me to mental sobriety. I began thinking of what Mordecai told Queen Esther when he sought her to help in seeking deliverance for the Jewish people. He had said to her:
“Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” -Esther 4:13,14.
It is to my shame that God had to use my very penchant for self preservation to show me the value of prayer that was beyond myself. It was then that I realized that we do not live alone, neither do we perish alone. Oftentimes we are contented to be consumed in our own affairs because we honestly believe that other people’s problems, national and global issues and the like, have nothing to do with us. We fail to realize that we too will perish if we do not use the privilege of prayer that has been afforded us to effect positive change.
Do any of these sentiments feel familiar to you?
“ISIS can keep beheading people once it doesn’t reach here in Trinidad”.
“Ibola can ravage Africa, but just don’t let it come here to my island”.
“People can get shot in Laventille, just don’t bring that crime to my community”.
“I don’t care whose child they abduct and rape, once it isn’t mine”.
For your sake, I hope you cannot relate; but for my indifference in prayer to the above issues,I must repent.
This year, I am praying. I am praying for a broader perspective. I am praying that God opens my eyes to the plight of others, and that He empowers me to help. I am praying that if God gives me anything this year, it would be His compassion.