28 February 2011

Brampton - An easy prayer turned hard

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Meeting with Sean this evening provided an unexpected dimension to prayer and faith. What began as a simple prayer for children to be happy turned into a deeply significant personal challenge. Life with Yahshua is full of surprises.

Whatever our age, we are all childrenI suppose by now nothing should surprise me! Here's what happened.

We sat drinking coffee and I wittered on for a while about the situation in North Africa, and Libya in particular. Not particularly illuminating stuff, but something that has preoccupied me over recent days. Sean listened but had little to add as he's been busy with other things of his own.

The prayer - Over the weeks and months he has been working his way through prayer circles on a T-shirt. Here's Sean's explanation. Read what he says and then come back here. If you don't, what follows may be a bit of a mystery.

I asked how this process was going, and wondered if it would be OK to pray about one or two of the circles together. Sean thought that would be a good plan and picked one out at random. We looked at it together, someone had written, 'For all children to be happy'.

What a lovely prayer request; simple, pure, and certainly worthy. I thought, 'What an easy thing to pray for.' Boy, was I wrong to think that!

The problem - As we began to pray, this 'simple' prayer challenged me more and more about my own faith. Perhaps the words 'all' and 'be' are the main problem. Do I have the faith to go to Father and ask, in Jesus name, that all children will be happy? All children? There is so much pain and suffering in the world and children are not immune. Here are some of the issues faced by children every day in our world - hunger, pain, sickness, abuse, no parents, uncaring parents, poverty, dirty drinking water, isolation, bullying, loneliness, fear, violence, self doubt, abandonment, loss... The list could go on, add some more yourself.

How can I ask for all children to be happy? It's easy to say the words so let's rephrase that. How can I believe that such a prayer will be answered? It seems easier to pray for one child with a particular known issue to be met. 'Father, please bring happiness into the life of {name goes here}'. But all children?

Yahshua loves children. He told his disciples not to prevent the little ones coming to him. He told them that unless they themselves came like small children they wouldn't even enter the Kingdom of heaven! (Mark 10:13-16)

Challenged - Whoever wrote that simple T-shirt prayer could not have known that they were setting me such a mighty challenge! The Holy Spirit didn't make it easier for me; he told me, 'If you can't pray for such a simple thing, how will you be able to ask for anything more difficult?'

I recognise that the Creator and King of this universe truly loves every child and certainly has no wish to keep any of them from happiness. Jesus himself walked through this same broken world and saw (and felt) the suffering and pain for himself. Love is the answer, but it's an answer he wants me to live out in practical ways as part of his body. I may be an ear, an eye, a foot or a hand. I must play my part by hearing or seeing suffering and going and reaching out in love.

I've rarely felt more challenged. What about you? Do you have views or thoughts about prayer and faith? Why not leave a comment? Let's have a discussion.

You can see more of Sean's T-shirt prayer circles on his 'Children in Need' Prayer Spot. The photo is image 54 from a collection on the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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