While in Tanzania, my itinerary included a visit to the country office on Friday morning. As we drove toward the office, my guide informed me that Friday was prayer day. He said it with an enthusiastic anticipation that I usually reserve for a planned shopping trip with dinner and ice cream afterwards. He knew what was coming and he was looking forward to it.
Compassion International battles poverty in 26 countries, working through 26 unique in-country offices. So on Friday morning, we headed to Tanzania’s country office which is located in the city of Arusha. The plan was to join the staff for morning devotions before heading out to visit a Compassion Center nearby.
The Compassion staff gathers for devotions every morning. However, Friday mornings are special because they are devoted to prayer. So after a time of worshipping God through singing, we got busy praying. We prayed and then we prayed some more. We prayed corporately and we prayed privately as some of the Staff sought a quiet place in the room. Some prayed standing, some kneeling. We paired off and prayed with a partner. If there was a way to pray; we found it and we prayed!
During corporate prayer, we prayed for a country where Compassion is currently serving approximately 137,000 children. This country is facing questions from the government about their program. Will Compassion be asked to leave this country? What would become of the children? Such heavy burdens.
We prayed for the sponsors. Yep, we prayed for you and me (if you are a sponsor). I was humbled. Then these questions popped into my brain: Why are you praying for me? Why are you praying for sponsors? None of us live in or near extreme poverty that exists right outside this office door. That didn’t matter. I was prayed for and all the sponsors were prayed for.
When it was time to pray with a partner, I looked around for my guide. Partnering and praying with my guide seemed like a comfortable choice. But he had moved to the back of the room during the private prayer time. Nearby, a tall lady with a warm smile looked my way. Yes, let’s pray together. So we stood, faced each other and joined hands. And we prayed.
What struck me most was how she prayed; how everyone in that room prayed. They prayed like it mattered. They prayed like they knew God was in the room, standing amongst us. They prayed boldly and with authority. They prayed like they knew their prayers made a difference. They prayed like they knew God was actually listening.
They rocked my prayer world. Do I pray like it matters? Not usually. Do I pray expecting God to answer? Uh….maybe sometimes.
Sadly, I have to admit that my approach to prayer is very vanilla and lightweight. When I take the time to pray, I lob softballs to God. I use the excuse that I am just too busy to really pray. But I make time to check Facebook and play cookie jam on my phone. That must make God sad too.
Recalling that day, I realize what an honor and privilege it was to spend time in prayer with my Tanzanian brothers and sisters. They taught me so much as they demonstrated how important prayer is to them and their work. They know they serve a Big God and they talk with Him openly and honestly – like it matters.
A little bit of Heaven moved that Friday morning because God was listening.
Pray like it matters, because it does.
Let’s Walk Worthy!
photo credit: dailyverses.net