In my devotional a few days ago I read part of a reflection by William Broderick, a monk. He wrote, ” We have to be candles, burning between hope and despair, faith and doubt, life and death, all the opposites. This is the disquieting place where people must always find us. And if our life means anything, if what we are goes beyond the monastery walls and does some good, it is that somehow, by being here, at peace, we help the world cope with what it cannot understand.”
I think we could read “monastery walls” as “church building walls” or, for this season, “the walls of our home or prayer space”.
We may not be monks, called out to a life of prayer, but we are still called to pray for the world, just as those in the world. We are still called to a life of prayer, just one informed and based in the places and communities of which we are a part. As God’s people, we too are to be for others. If our prayers then are to be meaningful and to make a difference it is by enabling the world to cope with what we struggle to understand and live in and with.
Situations such as a deadly pandemic, climate change, racial intolerance and abuse (and resulting protest and riots), would all seem to fit this category – things we struggle with, and are trying to learn about, and understand, but don’t yet have solutions to. Things that are bringing death, change, violence, suffering to our world, and nation, and local community, our own family even.
Our prayers into and for these things, for the people affected, for wise answers and those in authority or with resources to help, for life in death, hope in despair, and faith in doubt, will make a difference. ‘The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective’, James tells us (James 5.16) and we pray as those covered and made righteous by the sacrifice and death of Jesus. We pray in and through Jesus, and offer our world to God for his healing, peace, love and justice to reign. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come and his will to be done, in us, through us, amongst us and around us, and we trust that God will take our prayers and use them to intervene in our world. When we don’t feel a prayer is answered and are tempted to become discouraged, we remember that his ways are not ours and his timing is perfect, and so we continue to pray and we pray hope, faith and life into being in this world, defeating the darkness of despair, doubt and death.
So, get praying, keep praying and let God guide you as you pray for this world which is his and ours.