God shows His sense of humour again
As mentioned earlier, I've never really 'got' intercessory prayer, although I have recently started to pray for a list of people in a systematic and disciplined way never-the-less. Two recent happenings suggest to me that praying for people and situations may well be a much more significant part of the work God wants me to do than I would ever have expected.
I've been praying for the situation in Syria for some months now and recently I wanted to see if there was anything we could actually do about it as well. So I went online and found a list of charities that were doing aid work in Syria (or with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey) as well as contact details for various political bodies who I could perhaps try to lobby.
As I was musing about this one lunchtime and asking God what we should do, I sensed very clearly that what I should do was pray! It felt so preposterous to me: terrible things were happening and all I should do is pray?! I guess that shows, yet again, how little I really believe that prayer can change anything....
Then, a couple of days ago I was reading through newsletters from a couple of organisations that send missionaries from New Zealand to various foreign countries to tell people about Jesus. When I was 16 I felt called by God to be such a missionary and when we got married, such a life was what Martin and I were expecting for ourselves.
My illness has thus far prevented us from going overseas (although we remain open to the possibility), but sometimes I wonder about that sense of call. What does it mean that, despite it, 20 years later I'm still living here in New Zealand?
I was musing about this as I read those newsletters, and a certainty grew in me that God wants me to pray that people will come to follow him. Not just the people on my prayer list that I know personally, but people in foreign parts. For now at least, that is the missionary service he wants from me.1 So as of yesterday that's what I'm doing.
It seems that God may want me - someone who doesn't even really believe that praying achieves anything and only does it out of obedience - to be an intercessor! I find that somewhat stupendous...
1This reminds me of something I read a while back in the biography of St. Therese of Lisieux (also called St. Theresa the little flower). She was a Carmelite nun, living in the cloister with no contact with the outside world beside occasional visits from her family (all Christians), yet she saw herself as an evangelist. She spent hours a day in prayer, including praying for the salvation of condemned prisoners and other specific individuals she suspected were living apart from God. Maybe that's the kind of foreign missionary God would have me be?!