Prayer and the search for justice

This is part three of a presentation on prayer that I gave at Tearfund

Prayer is vital in Christian development for three reasons:

1. Intimacy

When God created everything and it was very good He used to walk in the garden in the cool of the evening talking with His creation. Prayer is what we call this ‘walking with God’. It is a picture of intimacy between God and His creation. It is how it was meant to be. It is also what it is meant to be like now. After the great rebellion, when humanity turned its back on God, what did He do? He came walking in the garden of Eden calling out “Adam where are you?”. The tragedy was that rather than running into the Fathers embrace they ran away to hide. But God came looking, came offering the same intimacy and relationship. It is how we are meant to live. Jesus explained how we do this ‘walking with God’  in Matthew 6 when he taught us how to pray. The Lords Prayer combines worship, confession, intercession, petition and warfare. This, Jesus says, is how we are to fill up our ‘secret place’, the place where we walk with God. So, we were made for intimacy. But in the place of intimacy something amazing happens. It is where we get changed. Where we receive wisdom, and strength and grace. The place of intimacy with God is the foundation of all else.

2. Prayer is our most powerful development intervention

Jesus teaches us that in His hands a little boys packed lunch can feed  5000, a widows mite buys more than the millionaires surplus and the tiny mustard plant seed is more powerful than the mountain. We are commanded to work diligently, but our work, ability and resources are not the limit to what God might do. When we put our little bit into the hands of Jesus anything is possible. In a world of overwhelming need we are not good enough. Our resources are not great enough, our wisdom not clever enough, our work- inadequate. When we put all that we are into His hands and ask for Him to do more than we can ask or think or imagine we enter the realm of endless possibility.

3. Prayer is the heart of ‘christian’ work.

In prayer we make tangible our dependence on Jesus. It is the heart of the difference. The heart of humility- we know we are not up to the task and desperately need God. It is the heart of fruitfulness. Jesus taught us that when we abide in Him we will bear much fruit. And it is the heart of integral mission. In trying to serve people in their entirety we need to bring their needs before God and cry out for Him to act.