Sunday, October 8, 2017
It seems to me that one should not endeavor to undertake ministry as a Christian worker, Christian doctor, or life itself as a Christian, without entering into the presence of God on a daily basis for serious and concentrated prayer. I find that the more I work with people, the more I must both bring to, and receive from God. It is a matter of emotional and spiritual survival to bring to the alter the people and things of the day. For if I am really ministering to people, if I am truly taking them seriously and trying to share in their joys and sorrows, they inevitably bring to me worrisome burdens, unsolvable problems, and deep and prolonged heart aches of every sort, which I then very naturally mull over and worry about. Not to mention the great landscape of bad choices that one finds people in, their houses built long ago firmly in the center of a hopeless flood plane with such little insight much less desire to move to higher ground. When I bring these people one by one to the Lord in prayer, the unbearable burden is found by an unseen assisting hand and somehow I am able to step out into the day.
Besides the people themselves, there is the very setting of ministry. Great consuming and dehumanizing political and cultural systems, deep and defining histories, overwhelming bureaucracies, endless noisy advertising, and all the world itself clamoring for the attention of anyone who will dare open his eyes for even a moment. Along this path of snakes we are called to walk as Jesus did, as his hands and feet for the world. In prayer, I find I must close my eyes to the world in order to receive that message of guidance, peace, and assignment that comes from God. If I do not daily, deeply, with structure and persistence, seek the Lord in this way, my attentions are hopelessly subject to the first minor demand made upon them in the wrong direction. Even with prayer, I daily fall to one way or another. Yet our Lord calls us sinners to go out into the invisible fields, work with tools we cannot touch or feel, and bring in a harvest of which we cannot truly taste in this world. To even attempt to do so we must daily receive redirection by blocking out what we can see, and hear the message from above.
In our struggle, God gives us His word. That which we cannot see, we are gifted to hear described. That which we cannot touch, we are told to trust Him to hold for us. And when we cannot taste those first bites from our gatherings, He gives us glimpses of His very glory in times of prayer.