As I write this column, Hurricane Ian is preparing to hit the west coast of Florida. My heart is already going out to the good folks who will need to pick up the pieces after the destruction and start over again. As a friend of mine recently said, “there is nothing more upsetting to the human soul than the suggestion the natural world cannot be trusted!”
Following natural disasters, we wonder what we can do. We know donations can be given to relief agencies like UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) and we will take an offering this month. We also know work teams can assist when the timing is right. We also know we can pray. In fact, this is the basic action we can take. And yes, prayer makes a difference!
Prayer is simultaneously the most under-utilized power on earth and the greatest power we have. Prayer is a “God-extender.” We have been blessed with the tremendous privilege of channeling some of our Lord’s power to needed places, people, and situations. Prayer is not so much persuading God to do something as it is making a direct connection with our Creator’s willingness.
In his book, “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home,” Richard J. Foster divides prayer into movements that are inward, upward, and outward. Of particular note during these trying times is outward movements to God.
A specific prayer in this grouping is intercessory prayer.
Intercessory prayer is prayer for the needs and concerns of others. This type of prayer is selfless and self-giving. The offering of such prayers was one of the duties of Old Testament priests, judges, and prophets. In 1 Samuel 7:5, the judge says, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah. I will pray to the Lord for you.” (CEB)
Like those in the Old Testament times, we need to intercede for others. With a simple prayer, we hope that God’s power and presence might make a difference. We also pray the appropriate parties will feel moved to make decisions that improve their situations and status. Prayer can move all of us to take the right actions!
Yes, prayer makes a difference. We need to do our part!
Blessings to you, Scott