Praying open our eyelids
In John 4, Jesus visits with a Samaritan. A Samaritan woman. A Samaritan woman living in adultery.
Unsurprisingly, when the disciples find Jesus talking with such a person, “they marveled” (John 4.27). This is not where they expect to see Him at work. They have a pretty clear idea of where that happens—in Jerusalem, in the Temple. Which is true; that was God’s appointed meeting place with His people.
But not the only place He could be at work.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]God’s kingdom is coming even without our prayers, but we pray for eyes to recognize and respond to what He’s up to. [/su_pullquote]As Jesus says in that very conversation with the Samaritan, adulterous woman, “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4.21-23).
The Father is on the search. That’s why he sends his Son: “To seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19.10).
All this to say: sometimes we need to broaden our vision of God’s activity. His kingdom is coming even without our prayers, but we pray for eyes to recognize and respond to what He’s up to. “Look, I tell you,” Jesus says. “Lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4.35).
With this in mind, this past Sunday we began a modest practice to help pry open our eyelids. Every week we’ll be praying for one each of the following:
- A neighborhood in Spokane
- A sister church body from around the globe
- A nation’s persecuted Christians
First, we pray for a neighborhood in Spokane. Many of the people among whom we live and move and have our being are hurting, harassed, and helpless. They need Jesus. And I daresay that we have members living in practically every Spokane neighborhood, especially on the South Hill. That’s your mission field. So we will join each week to pray for a different ‘hood.
Second, we pray for a sister church body. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has 36 partner churches around the world—from the Lutheran Church-Canada to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana, and everywhere in between. Lutherans worldwide comprise some 70 million believers; there are more Lutherans today in Ethiopia than in America! So, we lift up these brothers and sisters, remembering that we are part of a global communion.
Finally, we pray for persecuted Christians. Attacks on the Body of Christ are more prevalent by the day. The Church is suffering, especially in that part of the world (the Middle East) where she was born. “If one member suffers,” St. Paul writes, “all suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12.26).
Making mention of these places and people before the Lord, we are broadening our vision of His activity in the world—we’re praying open our eyelids. So that, when we find Him speaking to some sinner from the wrong part of town, we aren’t caught unawares.