During the WW2 bombing raids on London, Major Wellesley Tudor Pole, King George IV, & Winston Churchill called for every British citizen to pray each night at nine. Known as the Silent Minute, an estimated two million people prayed during the nine o’clock chimes of Big Ben. After the war, a high Nazi official told an interrogating British Intelligence officer, “During the war you had a secret weapon for which we could find no counter measure and which we did not understand, but it was very powerful. It was associated with the striking of Big Ben at 9 PM each evening. I believe you called it the ‘Silent Minute’.”
Prayer = Change. Prayer unleashes the power of God to accomplish things we cannot. In this blog series, I’ve covered six simple prayers that effect powerful change in our personal lives. Today, I wish to talk about change on a broader scale. Our world needs change. Our world needs healing. Our world has problems only God can solve. So how do we pray for that?
Some people know their destiny from a young age. I am not one of those people.
I remember Josh, a seven year-old who knew he was going to be a pastor. He’d preach to his younger siblings and neighbor kids like me. I pretty much zoned out his sermons, but just sat in awe of how he could be so sure of his destiny. Other kids I knew excelled at music, art, drama, or sports. My older brother was a math genius. My first day of second grade, the teacher said, “You’re Gabe’s younger sister. Are you as good at math as him? What’s 12-8?” Nerve-wracked, I froze. “No, I guess you’re not like him. Oh well.” That pretty much sums up my elementary career.
There is always more to do.
I’ll never forget talking with Helana, a foreign-exchange student from Honduras. She was commenting on how students in the USA have so many after-school activities. From sports to drama clubs to debate teams, she marveled at it all. I smiled, “Yes, there are many great opportunities here!” She looked at me like I was crazy. “Why on earth would anyone want to do those things? Why would anyone give up spending their evenings with their family? Some families here don’t even eat dinner together!”
I didn’t have an answer for her.
In 2004, American psychologist Barry Schwartz shocked the Western world with the ground-breaking book, “The Paradox of Choice- Why More is Less.” In it, Schwartz argued that having too many choices increases people’s stress and unhappiness.
Hide, escape. Ever since Adam & Eve hid from God in the Garden of Eden, hiding has been humanity’s default method for dealing with stress.
Stress comes in many forms: from the daily weight of tons of tiny problems that need to be solved, to the daily weight of one big problem that just won’t go away; from fractured or broken relationships, to fractured or broken dreams; from disappointment in those we love, to disappointment in ourselves. And while we may face and work through the stress, we also crave to hide and escape from it.
Hiding and escaping comes in many forms. The most dangerous forms of escape are well known: drug, alcohol, porn, and gambling addictions. The seemingly less dangerous forms of escape are harder to spot: over-indulgence in eating, shopping, sleep or entertainment. We often wink at these more socially-acceptable forms of escape, joking how we can’t live without our coffee or chocolate, or how a problem is “nothing that a little shopping won’t cure,” or how we’re obsessed with a certain TV show, game, book series, or social media platform. After all, they’re not really harmful, right? (And yes, it’s totally possible to attempt to drown your problems in the drama of other people’s Facebook posts!)
One of my favorite verses is James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
I lack wisdom… a lot. Which college? Which job? Which place to live? Which car to buy? Which school for my kid? Which sport or activity for my kid? Which foods are best? The list goes on.
That’s why I love James 1:5 so much. It promises that whenever we lack wisdom (which we all do), we can ask God and He will give us the wisdom, no strings attached. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been especially spiritual lately or not, God will give “generously to all without finding fault.”
And yet, so often we ask God for guidance, but the choice still seems unclear. Why?