18 October 2016

the greater work

Deep sighs tonight, not all bad, but all heavy.

I always remember thinking growing up that it was a parents' job to pray. I didn't always feel much moved by it, I had a lot of things I wanted to do, I was busy, I was making it happen...praying faithfully and passionately and continually and all that would come later, I figured.

And it has.

How quickly does parenting bring out the prayers in us...it leaves us SO aware of how weak and needy and helpless we are.  It would be, I think, almost impossible NOT to be continually giving Him our children, so deep our love, so precious their lives, so big and scary the world we carried them into.

But it has been lots of kinds of parenting that have deepened my prayer life.

Marriage, marriage stretches your prayers, for there is much I cannot do for this man and much he needs...there is much I cannot fix or change, but that HE can.  So I care and I love and I am learning these years to close my lips and open my heart and pray and pray instead.

Teaching, teaching grows up your prayers, for there is much to teach and to learn, and much that is needed I cannot give, many to shepherd only by the Mighty Help of the Shepherd and so I miss movies to make grammar posters and we all laugh at pronunciation together and I PRAY.

Serving at Emmaus, man, does that laden my prayers.  I'm not anyone's mother, but they are all in our care, all their feet are in our bowls, and they share bits of their struggles and callings and joys and fears and we care and we equip and we send and we visit, and my mother-heart stretches as they go out and go out and when the night is finally quiet and everyone is in their dorms, I am praying.

This past weekend alone...

Our 12 in Dufou all sharing and leading and I see mothering in Phida's eyes as she talks of all of the interest in her God, of the darkness of the zone, as she talks of the services and prayers and quiet times and the women who held her hands and begged her to stay from now on and walk Jesus among them.

Jodenel traveling crazy miles to train a few pastors far away in our discipleship materials, only to find 28 waiting and so many hungry and not knowing the first thing about intentional discipleship.  They are greatly wanting to be discipled and there is parenting in his tired voice as he shares their great desire and the beauty of the sacrificial day.

Junel, a 110% of the time joy to interact with, never discouraged, never grumpy, never rude, travelled the long broken road to the far south, where his father and brothers and sisters and cousins were all calling out under Hurricane Matthew. As he went, as he came, how many were our prayers for him, and he returns with joy over holding their safe hands and with awe over the extent of the devastation, no garden, no boats, no nets left to live by, blessed to have helped a few, burdened to have walked past so many.

And Jonas and Carmel, how many prayers, how many prayers, as they have lost baby after baby, each  lost in nights of bleeding all at the five month mark. She cannot hold them once they start to gain weight, and with no surgeries or procedures in this corner of the world for cervical insufficiency, we have prayed through this fourth pregnancy for a miracle.  Jonas called last night on the way to the hospital, and when we spoke this afternoon the heartbeat was gone, gone once again, and there is no understanding for that grief and no words for that prayer, no children for these friends, not to hold.

And as Matt prepares to leave, to preach through the week at Houghton College (NY) and to defend this doctoral study in England once and for all, I pray. As I work to teach planets and dinosaurs and fractions and reading with grace and patience and wisdom and faith to wiggly and impatient sticky fingers and ever watchful eyes...oh, I pray.  As one friend returns from Iraq and one struggles with her health and that of her precious baby, as one struggles with loneliness and another with her faith, as I hurt for the South and the North and the world...I pray.

And as I do, mothering prayers to the Father, He meets me.

Prayer does not equip us for greater works, O. Chambers assures me.  Prayer IS the greater work.

Prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me,
which produces the miracle of redemption in others,
through the power of God.

The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption.

Prayer IS the battle, and it makes no difference where you are.  However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray.

We refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. We must learn to work according to God's direction, and He says to pray.

What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.

And so, trusting that the morning-glory prayers and the night-time prayers of desperate places and all the many prayers in between ARE the greater work, HIS greater work, we continue.

Continue praying, friends.  It is the working of the miracle of redemption, and there is much today to be redeemed.

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