Today I felt my feebleness, my insignificance, my powerlessness to create change, and most of all my prayerlessness.
Why? Why were such feelings of inadequacy storming my soul?
Because they are true, and I was being faced with reality as I read an article by Compass Direct News about Christians fearing civilian casualties in Burma as the military junta gears up for a large scale assault upon ethnic troops in Karen State where approximately 40% of the 3.5 million population are Christians. It is widely believed that the ruling military junta are trying to systematically purge the country of minority ethnic and religious groups, meaning that in a predominately Buddhist nation Christians are on the list of those to be eliminated. From the Compass Direct article:
The junta perceives all Christians in ethnic minority states as insurgents, according to the pro-democracy Free Burma Rangers (FBR) relief aid group. The Burmese Army attacked a Christian village in Karen state four months ago, according to the FBR, and on July 23 burned all houses and the state’s largest church in Tha Dah Der village.
The situation for Christians in Burma is dire, especially for Christians who also happen to be in one of the ethnic minority people groups. They are facing one of the largest standing armies in the world, an army which is being given orders to subjugate or eliminate Christian ‘insurgents’. For the proportionally very few Christians in the Shan ethnic group the situation is even more difficult as their neighbours often consider them to be bringers of ill-omens to the village because they do not worship the local gods.
After October’s month of prayer for the Shan people of Burma, I can no longer ignore the suffering of the people of Burma. They are not just a news story. These people are my brothers and sisters, the Christians there are part of my family, I cannot ignore them. But what can I do? I may live in one of the wealthiest nations, have a secure job, have total religious freedom, be a citizen under one of the least corrupt governments in the world, yet I have no power to help the people of Burma. My spare change will change nothing, my good intentions will not stop a single bullet.
However, I am also a citizen with direct access to the most loving, compassionate, merciful, gracious and powerful being. I may be but a little child in the kingdom of God, but Jesus is God’s own Son and He has given me full fellowship and told me to ask for whatever I want in His name and it will be given (John 16:23-24). Therefore, I can do something of utmost significance, I can ask.
I was reminded of this by something else I read in the blogosphere today:
Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray. — Samuel Chadwick (quoted on Tim Challies’ blog).
So, just as Daniel set his face to pray (Daniel 9:3), and Hezekiah prayed (Isaiah 37:15-20) and God answered (Isaiah 37:21-22) and acted (Isaiah 37:36-38), I also will pray to God in whose hands kings and dictators are His servants (Isaiah 44:28).
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24 ESV)
The enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian, and above all the minister, to neglect prayer. He knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected. — Andrew Murray
Image source: Free Burma Rangers