But I concluded some years ago, in an article in the Baptist Times as it happens, that if Jesus taught us how to pray, and prayed himself then that was good enough for me. So I do pray and will always encourage others to pray.
But then the next problem appears – what am I to pray for? – after all, some situations are just so complex. “Your will be done” is the obvious answer, and a good one, but that can’t be the only prayer we utter. To pray meaningfully we need to be informed, if for no other reason than our prayers should be matched by our actions, whether that be protest, compassion, sacrificial giving or acts of mercy to name but a few.
For most of my adult years I led churches to pray for peace in Northern Ireland, and then it happened. These days, its prayer for peace in the Middle East, characterised as before by moments of encouragement followed by predictable setbacks. But one thing has helped me pray – and its this. The most complex problems can often be boiled down to a few key men and women who have it in their power to make decisions that could literally change the course of human history. These men and women are State leaders, opinion shapers, change agents, persons of influence.
Whatever the nature of the storm, however wild, no matter how large, boil it down to the handful of people. Then pray for them! They stand at the eye of the storm and whatever their personal contribution to the nature of the crisis, they need prayer.
Today we received a letter from Nabil Costa (r), Head of our Lebanese Baptist partner organisation. Nabil is a man after God’s heart and God has placed him in a position of influence in the Middle East. Take a moment to read his letter.
Yesterday night, and at the end of the first of a two-day mandatory consultations, the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and other parts of the country witnessed different manifestations of protest. Lebanese people went to bed yesterday night not knowing what to expect in the morning, yet - and not surprisingly so - they woke up to yet another normal day of work, school, etc… Praise God! The Lebanese Army is very alert and on top of things, and we continue to get the sense that everyone is keen on maintaining security in the country. Again, we stand encouraged and hopeful.
In such days, listening to the news – whether local, regional or international – can be quite alarming especially that each news agency has its own agenda and affiliation. As I think of the state of panic that one can get into while switching from one channel to the other attempting to make sense of things, I am thankful that God is in control and focus on His promises and His word in Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers.” Our country needs leaders after God’s heart. Difficult?! Not for God! We pray and await His intervention.
I believe that as Christians we are to hold on to His promises that we may not be overtaken by the sense of panic and confusion that disables us from doing the work that He has called us to do. May God give us wisdom to guide our countrywomen and men to put their trust in the Lord and not in human leaders - that they may have peace.
- Please pray for the consultation process and outcome - that His will may be done.
- Pray for the people of Lebanon - and the Lebanese Army.
- Pray for the Body of Christ in our country – that we may not be distracted from doing the work that He has called us to do; that our lives - at all times - reflect the Source of our peace.
Thanking you for your care and prayers.
In His grip,
As you close this page, say a prayer for Lebanon, for Israel/Palestine, for Christian/Muslim tensions in the region, and for nations who do not trust each other.
I have no idea how your prayer will change things. But its what Jesus told his disciples to do. That’s good enough for me.