Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Prayer In “Such a Time as This”

By Christine Sheller

If you’ve ever responded to a political email for a survey, donated, or sent emails to representatives and senators per a third party email, you probably see the subjects to many emails that come in by various organizations urging you to act on many different issues.
  I know I get these at Iowa Peace Network.  I try to read the ones that stick out to me.  It’s a little overwhelming about all the issues that are out there, but I’ve been reminded that there is something that is very powerful that I can do, that many of the organizations seem to forget.  I can pray (in addition to acting on various issues.)

The term “such a time as this” comes from the Old Testament in the Bible.  You may remember the story of Queen Esther.  She was Jewish, and her husband, the king, did not know.  He planned to have all the Jewish people killed.  Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, alerts Queen Esther, and warns her, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:14b)  He warns her that if she does not act, perhaps the king would have her killed somehow too.  She then acts courageously and asks to speak with the king in the inner court, without permission.  This was a punishable act, but she acts bravely to save her people.  If you know the story, you know that in the end the king grants the queen’s request for a banquet in which she asks for the Jewish people to be saved, and he revokes the plan to kill the Jews.  “For just such as this” seems appropriate for our times too.  Prayer is powerful (“For the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.” -James 5:16)

We in the church know that there are others who self-identify as Christians who do not see issues of the nation the same as we might.  But as I was reminded in an article from the Messenger (the Church of the Brethren magazine)- we need to still wash one another’s feet – physically and metaphorically.  (“An Election Day Love Feast” by Tim Heishman, Church of the Brethren Messenger, January/ February 2017 Vol. 166, No. 1)  He was part of the staff at a camp in Virginia that organized an Election Day Love Feast.  In the Church of the Brethren, we practice Love Feast twice a year, customarily once in the fall, and once during Holy Week (on Maundy Thursday).  This decision to host a Love Feast on Election Day was a wonderful reminder to me that loving our neighbors is what Jesus wants us to do.  Those in Virginia gathered together at Brethren Woods Camp- those who voted Democrat, Republican, independent, third party, write-in, or not at all.  They partook of the feetwashing, fellowship meal, and communion which is all part of Church of the Brethren Love Feast.

I pray regularly, and I need to remember to pray for the issues facing our nation.  I have seen answer to prayer.  I always try to pray that God’s will be done, and not just pray for my desires.  I want my desires to coincide with God’s, but sometimes I need guidance from the One “who holds the stars.”  God can work and speak to people in authority over our nation.  We can vote.  My prayer is that I will be joined by hundreds of you, in prayer for our nation and for our leaders.  Prayer really does work.

Christine Sheller is coordinator and editor at Iowa Peace Network.  She is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary.

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