I want to think that I am a fairly humble person – that is probably an indication that I am really not that humble. This week, God took me down a notch and showed me just how much I take for granted the gifts He has allowed me to experience in my life. He imposed a sense of humility on me during a time of group prayer, as only He can do.
Last Monday night, I participated in a gathering at my church defined as “A Night of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.” Throughout the evening we praised God with song and prayer, we prayed for persecuted Christians specifically in Iraq and Nigeria (and other places God put on our hearts), we prayed that God would prompt us, as a Christian community, to respond to atrocities against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we prayed for the persecutors who are afflicting fear and violence on others – that they may be transformed like Paul.
I went to this gathering out of a sense of duty to the people who are suffering because of their faith. We are called to stand in the gap for others (Ezekiel 22:30-31) and I hope that people would do this for me if I were being attacked.
I know God heard our prayers. However, I left feeling that God had really drawn me to this gathering to do a work in my heart. As I prayed with my small group for those being persecuted to have (among other things) safety, food, water, and strength; God brought into my awareness my own petty complaints about the circumstances of my life. How these concerns paled in comparison to those that are pressing against the Christians in Iraq, Nigeria, and scores of other peoples around the world.
At the beginning of the night, one of our pastors encouraged us not to feel despondent as we prayed, because, as is promised in the book of Revelation, God is bringing His kingdom to earth even in the midst of chaos. I didn’t leave despondent, but I did leave humbled, full of gratitude, and committed to continue praying for these folks on my own. I left with a great sense of God’s infinite power and provision.
This was just another in a long series of experiences that have shown me that God always uses prayer to change me – even when I am interceding for another. The relationship with God that’s fostered through prayer can do nothing less. This is His ulterior motive. He is making all things new (Revelation 21:5), all the time.