I had a chance a week ago to talk to a guy who’s moved into the slums of a very poor mega-city, and I asked him what someone here (developed, Western world), could do to make a difference there. His answer was alarmingly simple: prayer.
Prayer. It’s something that’s very easy to forget. When you’re researching practical solutions, ethics, campaigns and organizations it’s easy to get focused on achieving change on your own and leave God on the side. Many sites out there are coming from a very naturalistic, humanistic viewpoint. Because they don’t emphasize the role of God’s redeeming and delivering work in our social problems, even a Christian can begin to think, “We can do this,” (unconsciously “We can do this on our own”). The truth is, we can’t. Psalm 127 brings us back to the true nature of reality:“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (v.1-2). Justice is God’s house. He invites us to build it in partnership with Him.
I’ve decided it’s time to take some “time out” on all my practical solutions and pause to pray—to re-affirm that this is God’s project, not mine, and I am dependent on Him to make something of my efforts. There are many small things I can do in this battle, but I want to pause to pray for the things only God can do—restoring hope, redeeming lives, comforting the grieving, giving vision to more people to care for the oppressed.
It’s hard sometimes to stop and pray. And it’s hard to know how to pray when you do stop. I find it helps me to pray in partnership with other people, or to make a decision of when I will jump into focused prayer ahead of time. And it helps me to have prayer aids—the Bible being my main guide in what to pray for. My on-line research has given me a boon as well—a free on-line booklet that serves as a 3-day prayer guide called “3 Days to Change the World.” And then there’s the issue of accountability. With this blog I am sticking my neck out and telling the world, “I’m going to do this.” No getting out of it now. If you want to stick your neck out with me, you can do it in the comments below. We can tell each other how it goes.
Here’s the site to view or down-load the Prayer Guide 3 Days to Change the World.