When you don’t know what to pray


Never before has there been a time when we have been subject to so much visual stimuli. We’re not wired to process these harsh images that our eyes scan and soak daily. Words and pictures of other people’s lives and worlds that we can choose to switch on and off to as we so please. And then there comes an earthquake, rioting and beheadings dotted like pins on a map and I can’t.not.notice. I can’t not stop and pay attention to my reaction. My heart aches and yearns to know why and who and what can I do.

And as mothers, daughters and sisters live through the onslaught there are those who report and those who resort to public comments and payments and prayers.

People say they’re thankful that they live here and not there. Some call this ‘blessed’. I’m sure that’s a matter of perspective; such an overused word that I find hard to hear in these times. An Iraqi woman on the run finding bread for her hungry babes is blessed. A Nepalese mother amongst the desolate destruction still feeling the breath of her daughter against her cheek is blessed. As as those who cling to God.

And where they saw rhododendrons they now see rubble and reality has taken a sharp corner as life adjusts with a blink of an eye in a treacherous storm.

When Father Greg Boyle gets asked ‘what can I do’ in reference to his incredible ministry with gang members in LA his answer is ‘kinship’. Find commonality amongst the people, bridge the divide between ‘them and us’. I thought about this today as I considered other mothers of 4 in these pin point lands struggling to see another day through. I can’t reach in with my arms or pots of tea, I can’t hold their children and wash their clothes but I can reach out with my prayers; and even though I’m grasping for words and truth and hope I know my prayers will availeth much. The enemy wants to kill, steal and destroy our seemingly small efforts but we can move mountains today.

Mary Oliver said that real prayers are not the words, but the attention that comes first. I think both flow and bind together but today I am paying attention. I’m deciding to not just merely be thankful that it’s not me but I’m standing in the place of those who have no voice today.

So I quiet my questions, turn my heart and bend my knee and pray for those like me.

Father God; even though so much has changed, you never change. You are faithful and good and kind. Bring streams of peace in these deserts of despair, help my sisters breathe through their grief and see you. Be the lifter of their heads; bring direction, wisdom and words in many shapes and forms. Bring relief, sleep and deep love. Bring help, clothes, nappies and food. Bring medical supplies, may babies in utero live to hear the stories of freedom and survival and may breastfeeding mothers continue to nourish their babes. Lord may those who have travelled to help not grow weary in doing good, may they see Jesus through the fog of need and hurt.

Help me pay attention Lord. For you alone deserve the glory.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven

Psalm 107:28-30

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