Yesterday as I was praying for East Africa – still praying for rain – I found myself thinking something along the lines of: ‘This is too hard… it’s the rainy season now and if there is no rain in the next weeks, I suppose I’ll just give up.’
It breaks my heart to write those words, because how easy it is for me in my relatively comfortable life to think I can give up on praying for people on another continent who have a different culture and different life experience to me.
But I can’t turn my face away. And I know my Father in Heaven is not turning His face away. Sitting here writing this I feel so helpless to do anything, and yet the God in whom I trust is the creator of the universe, the defender of the weak and the lifter of my head. It is He who stirs my heart to pray and care for people I have never met. I know that He loves them and so I will pray: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in East Africa.”
My brothers and sisters are among those suffering through conflict and drought and starvation and I can’t turn my back on them. I was reading recently about the work of Open Doors with the Christian community in Nigeria who are frequently being denied aid because of their faith. It is encouraging to read about what is being done to help them and we need to continue to stand with them because the crisis is ongoing. And not just those persecuted, but all Christians who live in the region.
Even as I pray for provision for God’s people I am reminded that God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous – and that rain will be a blessing to all people in sub-Saharan Africa. And I am blessed by the knowledge that many Christians are working with aid agencies (both Christian and secular) in this region without partiality, bringing help to all regardless of race or religion. What a gracious and compassionate God we have!
And yesterday, as I rejected the thought of laying down this burden of prayer I felt God meet me in my prayers, filling me with faith and expectancy. For those who have felt that kind of connection, you will understand the joy that gives life to prayers that had grown cold. I’m afraid I can’t describe or explain it any better than that – partly because I’m not a poet and partly because no one can or should explain something so personal.
The other day God showed me the following verses in Psalm 65:
“You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.”
Psalm 65v9-13 NIV
That’s my prayer for East Africa – Lord, So be it in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia & Kenya. Amen!