Sunday, December 04, 2016

Uncommon Prayer

This is about one of my favorite students of all time and what she asked me to pray for. It is from September 6, 2012.
As I've mentioned before, I give at least one grade each day in my five Bible classes, whether it be tests, quizzes, memory verses, analysis, or combinations of the above categories. On each assignment, I encourage our students to add a prayer request at the bottom of the sheets if they have something they'd like for me to pray for. It's a good spiritual outlet for them and it also allows me to get a glimpse into their lives when they trust me enough to share. Yesterday, on a quiz covering Matthew 3, a student left a petition for prayer unlike any I've ever found on a paper. Rebecca is new to WCS this year and one of those kids you just automatically like. She's Canadian, has lived in many different places around the globe, most recently London, and has Chinese heritage through a grandparent. In class on Wednesday, she was double checking our notes about the purification ceremony forty days after Jesus was born by going back to Leviticus where the statute is introduced- I brought up the nobility of the Bereans who searched the scriptures to document the accuracy of what they were being taught. Here was, word for word, what she penned as the addendum to her quiz yesterday:

Prayer Request- my church in China; thanks for the persecution they suffer because it makes them grow.

WOW. Quite a spiritually mature declaration of gratitude from heaven for a young lady not quite fifteen years of age. Most of us would pray to avoid persecution: Rebecca sees the long-term benefit in the mistreatment for her Christian brothers and sisters. I wish I prayed more along those lines instead of rote recitations, like repeating the Pledge Of Allegiance which we do with little thought. Her request brought to mind a wonderful hymn on prayer, which like so many, has fallen into disuse. This is Father, Hear The Prayer We Offer, penned in 1854 by Love Maria Willis:

1 Father, hear the prayer we offer:
not for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength that we may ever
live our lives courageously.

2 Not for ever in green pastures
do we ask our way to be;
but the steep and rugged pathway
may we tread rejoicingly.

3 Not for ever by still waters
would we idly rest and stay;
but would smite the living fountains
from the rocks along our way.

4 Be our strength in hours of weakness,
in our wanderings be our guide;
through endeavor, failure, danger,
Father, be thou at our side.

I think Rebecca's prayer request captured the spirit of that hymn, even if she has never heard of it. It's easy to pray the easy prayers with the comfortable topics and the comfortable thoughts. To praise the Lord for heartache and trouble is not for the faint of heart, but we need to ascend to that level. We love the green pastures and still waters of verses two/three which evoke thoughts of David's 23rd Psalm but we can't stay there forever. Those who need divine intervention, including ourselves, are found dangerously near to the cliffs or in the middle of raging rivers. The knowledge that our Father protects us even in the dark times is particularly reassuring and that He uses obstacles to strengthen us is soothing. So join me tonight and pray for Rebecca's friends and Christian family in China. May they continue to grow in spite of tribulation. And may we grow in the gravity of our prayers.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” 

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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