Rector’s Letter – October 2017

“…the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” [Romans 8.26]

Dear folks,

September has been a staggering month for natural disasters. Two earthquakes in Mexico, flooding in the Indian subcontinent, and numerous hurricanes devastating the West Indies and South-East America. Many, many communities and homes have been destroyed, people displaced and lives turned upside down. What can you and I do about it? The obvious Christian answer is, ‘give and pray.’ Few of us are able to go to the scene and assist in rescue relief efforts, although some could, so most of us have only two options open to us. But I suspect that of the two, giving cash is thought of as the only practical suggestion, while the assurance of prayer is perhaps only appreciated as a kind gesture. However, as Christians we know (or at least ought to have faith in) the power of prayer to change lives with greater effect than any amount of cash. While they often need money, the people suffering these things desperately need your prayers.

But there is so much in the news that demands our prayers today. You may also receive regular prayer requests and prayer diaries from charities and ministries that you support. The prayer needs today can be overwhelming. Where do we even begin when it’s so difficult to relate to these events, especially those that affect people in far off lands that we don’t know? And what do we ask for in our prayers?

As someone whose vocation it is to be an intercessor I know that organising who and what you pray for can be a bewildering task when there are so many needs. Being a list maker I tend to try to make sure everything gets covered at least once a week, pressing matters daily, and urgent prayer each time I pray. I find that keeping a prayer list is also a good way to recognise when our prayers have been answered as we return to entries, add new ones, and delete outdated ones.

But lists don’t work for everyone and can feel a little too administrative. Perhaps you could use pictures cut from magazines, or a photo slide show saved on your phone or whatever else might help you.

But be assured, when believers pray in faith we are calling the power of heaven into whatever situation we pray for, which means wonderful things can happen. It may be hard for you and I to assess how our prayers are being answered for people like the rescue workers in Mexico City, or flood victims in Bangladesh, but your prayers really do make a difference, a very real difference.
If you do feel overwhelmed by the many needs, just focus on a few of the ones that really touch your heart, finding out as much as you can about the needs in that situation, and praying regularly for the people affected and those working to help them.

And as the Apostle Paul says – We are not left to pray alone. The Spirit helps us as we pray. Sometimes that won’t be in comprehensible words.
When I was last in Finland visiting my sister Amanda, we called in to the Rock Church in Helsinki and had a moment of prayer. My sister picked up a card on the counter and gave it to me which said…

Rukous on ihmeellinen asia;
Rukouksella on loppumaton voima.

Prayer is a wonderful thing;
Prayer is the infinite power.

While I might feel the need to straighten out some theology in the last line to make it point more to the source of the power that is invoked by prayer, the encouragement is otherwise sound.
So keep praying; your prayers will change lives!

God bless,