This week it has seemed as if every time I open my inbox, I've received another email alerting me to sad news. As I head for circle tonight to study God's Word and pray with women from my church, my prayer request list is heavy with loss: loss of new life, loss of young life, loss of matured life, loss of jobs.
Quite honestly, each loss is laden with tragedy, full of questions and confusion and pain.
My heart is sad.
Appropriately, I get to lead the group's devotion tonight on prayer and thought I would share some relevant thoughts with you. We will be studying the first few verses of Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17.
Jesus is praying to his Father just before his arrest, which will eventually lead to his death (and resurrection.) He is asking his Father to restore to him the fullness of his glory, so that he will be able to complete the work for which he was sent, the redemption of the souls of God's people.
Our study's author, Susan Hunt, points out that these first verses emphasize four important themes in prayer. Jesus demonstrates for us (and we can emulate him) prayer for 1. God's glory, 2. God's people, 3. God's nearness, and 4. God's calling.
In such sad times, it is difficult to know how to pray for people who are suffering. One helpful thought is that we can always pray "that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." - John 17:3. Jesus is not talking about knowing facts about God or about having a perfect systematic theology. He is talking about knowing the person of God, being in a relationship with him, such that his goodness, power, love, comfort, and peace will be readily apparent in all its fullness, bringing healing to broken hearts and restoration to lost souls.
As a woman acquainted with such sorrow, I often find myself trying to figure and sort. If I just think hard enough, some solution will present itself. Unfortunately, there are circumstances in life that truly seem to bring no resolution. I want to be helpful, but circling around in my own thoughts is entirely unproductive.
Hunt reminds me, "The more intimately a true woman knows her heavenly Father, the more often she will shift her focus to Him and commit people and situations to his sovereign care."
And so, I am called to pray. God's people, we are all called to pray.
My sweet friends, I am praying for you now, that you will know the nearness of the Lord, that you will feel his calming and peaceful presence, that you will find rest for your souls.
Lesson Learned: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33b.