Syria. It's a nation that has dominated the news cycles for the past few days, and has been a recurring fixture in the media for the past couple of years. I'm not even going to begin to try to rehash or explain what's going on there. Many others have done a good job doing that already (for instance, this piece from the Washington Post).
What's a Christ-Follower to do in the face of so much chaos?
Brian Zahnd does a fantastic job of helping us try to find an answer to this question by inviting us into his inner monologue.
And we would be remiss to have a conversation regarding the Middle East and a Jesus-Followers response to it without hearing from Carl Madearis. In this post from the other day, he urges us to ask, “Who would Jesus bomb?”
What do we do when we don't even know where to start?
I'm grateful for friends like the great folks over at 24-7 Prayer who help us by giving us some suggestions for how to pray into the situation.
And for Jesus-Followers like Rachel Held Evans who posted this beautiful piece on her blog this evening. As I read it, I kept coming back to something that's been hounding me for the past few months now.
What do we pray, when we don't know what to pray?
Lately, I've found myself in that position more often than not. As I see the hurts and struggles of people close to me and of those that I've never met, I find myself without words to even pray.
So, what now?
Even in writing this post, I've found myself trying to find the right thing to say and the right way to say it. As I said on my FaceBook page last night, I struggle to put my thoughts into words:
“Weighing what I want to say with what is prudent for me to say with what God wants me to say.
“Knowing that my words won't change the situation, yet feeling compelled to use my words to spark prayer, contemplation, and love from those who believe that God longs to bless, redeem, and bring shalom–nothing missing, nothing broken–to the situation.
“Finding it hard to bring hope–confident and joyful expectation in the goodness of God–in the midst of despair.”
Here is what I know: God is good. God is not the author of confusion or chaos, rather God is the Creator of Orderly Order. God's desire is for people to be blessed–not for their own benefit, but rather so that they can bless others. God longs for His Kingdom to be established on earth as it is in heaven.
His Kingdom–that place where what God wants done is done as Dallas Willard described it.
His Kingdom–where in the midst of chaos, we see orderly order emerge as John the Gospel Writer described it.
His Kingdom–where the life of God is made accessible to man, and they enter its enjoyment here on earth as Andrew Murray described it.
His Kingdom–where His shalom becomes our reality.
I'm coming to learn that all I can pray is the prayer that our Savior taught us: “Your Kingdom come.”
As I search for words to pray in regards to the situation in Syria, I'm left there. I'm left with nothing other than the words of Jesus. To pray anything else would be to pray my opinion. It would be to pray out of my own understanding. Instead, I have no cry other than “Your Kingdom come.”
It's a cry for mercy.
It's a cry for grace.
It's a cry for hope.
It's a cry for justice.
It's a cry for Shalom.
It's a cry for that which is missing to be found.
It's a cry for that which is broken to be repaired.
There's a beautiful passage in the story of the birth of John the Baptist (the one who proclaimed that the King was coming and in His coming was bringing the Kingdom–much like we are called to do as followers of The Way). It's in the prophetic prayer that Zechariah prays over John the Baptist at his circumcision. In that prayer are these words:
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. — Luke 1:78-79 (The Message)
And, so, all that's left is for us to pray. “Your Kingdom Come.” May Your sunrise break in upon the people of Syria. May it shine on those in darkness. May it bring life to those in the shadow of death. May it show the way–one foot at a time–down the path of peace.
YOUR KINGDOM COME!