Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Prayer flags

It was a heated battle, a matter of life and death.
"Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed." Exodus 16.11

As I read those verses this morning, I was encouraged to never stop praying for a particular situation and several varied individuals.  Never stop praying for them. 

Our prayers matter more than we can possibly know.  Sometimes we might see just the edge of the outcome, but mostly not at all.  The results go a lot deeper than my prayers and far beyond my lifetime.

In pictures taken in the Himalayas, strings of small colorful triangular flags decorate the mountainsides, blowing in the wind.  Originating hundreds of years ago in Tibet and Nepal, the printed cloth flags were marked with prayers and flown to attract the attention of the gods.

Our God does not need flags to hear our prayers.  But I feel like it is God who needs to post flags to attract MY attention -- "Over here!"  God waves a bright colorful flag, "pray for her!"  "Pray about that situation!"  "Pray for him right now!"

Who has God placed on my heart and my radar today?   Where has God placed those flags to remind me to pray?

When our youngest daughter was an infant, waking frequently through the night, I would get up and walk the halls with her to lull her back to sleep.  At first, so tired, I would grow in frustration, desperately begging her to go back to sleep.  The tension wasn't doing either one of us any good at all.  And then, as time went by, and I was awake anyway with her, I began to pray for whoever God placed in my heart.  I would pray for world leaders, celebrities, neighbors, teachers, whoever flew through my radar, believers and not.

I have no idea the outcome of those prayers, but God made it evident how I needed to use that time.

Lately, as I comb through the daily news, I have been praying my way through it.  An article about Boko Haram?  I pray for the people in Nigeria, for protection for the believers there, even for the leaders of that terrorist organization that God would soften their hearts.  A newscast about two young men recently convicted in a trial?  I saw the remorseful and terrified look of one, knowing that he will be spending decades in a horrible prison.  Oh, God.  Draw him to You, place Your shield over him.

Several years ago, a friend of mine moved to a strange new neighborhood.  No one even spoke to her.  And so, she and her young daughter began walking up and down the blocks every morning, praying for the families in those houses, praying for God to invade this community where He had placed them, praying that they would be good neighbors to those around them, sensitive to their needs, and love them well.  In the course of time, God did not just change the situation, He changed their own hearts toward that place.

When I was in junior high school, an ancient woman in our church Miss Edith, hobbled up to my father after the evening service one Sunday.  "What can I be praying for you, Bob?" she asked him, point blank.  "Nothing," he replied.  "Surely. there is something," she insisted.  "Well, our house in New Jersey has not yet sold, but that is not something to bother God about," he said.

She just smiled at him.

Two days later, there was a contract.

I don't fully understand prayer, but I do know that God uses it in mighty ways.  Prayer is not handing God a grocery list of sorts.  Prayer is not telling God what to do.  It is a crying out to a personal God who loves. It is watching and listening and being still.  I have no power in it, but through it, God aligns my heart to His and in a sense, I join forces with Him for His glory.

I am in a situation right now where the only thing I am able to do for a friend is to pray.  And I realized this morning, that is the most powerful thing I can do for her.

Who has God placed on your heart
      and on your prayer radar?
Where has God placed a banner
         "pray over here!"?

The prayer of the righteous has great power in its effects.

                                       James 5. 16

Pray constantly.

           1 Thessalonians 5.17

Never stop praying.



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