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Lent, Day 17 – Don’t just stand there – pray something.

Today’s Lent Reflection comes from Rev’d Willie.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 says:
 ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’

The World has changed! The voices of the powerful have been humbled, the prowess of the Lion of the God of Wealth has been tamed and the security of the very foundations of society have been shaken – not by nuclear war or chemical weapons, but by a virus!

What must we do?

Paul, as he writes to Timothy, has something to say: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people”.

As the people of God, our responsibility is prayer. God has not given this privilege of responsibility to anyone other than his Church. Our Bishop has launched a season of prayer from St Patrick’s day until Pentecost Sunday (31st May) – 10 weeks of prayer. Join him.

As uncertainty becomes the constant of our times we need to pray in a number of ways. Firstly petitioning God – the prayer of the persistent widow comes to mind. Knock the door of heaven over and over again. Pray with persistence. Equally, we are called to pray prayers of intercession. Surely this is asking on behalf of others – prayers are not to be just ‘our own needs and woes’ but always should be us interceding on behalf of others as Christ intercede before God on our behalf.

As a boy I stood in many a gap (a hole in a hedge) to let our cows pass by and stopping then wandering into some other man’s garden or field). Prayer is us standing in the gap for others. Especially those who don’t prayer.

In the midst of that God tells us to pray with Thanksgiving. We are to pray for ourselves, our families and those around us. I remember my aunty Gladys telling me that she was always blessed by praying for “people who do not pray for themselves” – she had a heart of intercession. We need to stand in the gap for the millions around the world, and for our friends and family who do not pray for themselves. I think we have a special responsibility to pray as there are many who do not have the gift of faith to pray.

As instability, indecision and fear reign in our society at large, we are also called to pray for those in authority. Paul counsels the young Timothy in today’s reading to pray for; ‘for kings and all those in authority’. We no longer have Kings with any significant leadership, but we do have “those in authority”.

Boris in London, Leo in Dublin, Arlene and Michelle at Stormont and locally Alan our Mayor in LCCC…the list goes on as we think of our Presidents and Prime Ministers, MP’s, MLA’s and local Councillors.

To pray for those in leadership in the UK and Ireland today you don’t have to agree with their political view or ideology, but before the Lord, you are called to ‘pray for those in authority’. I urge you to pray with greater urgency for all those who have responsibility for this Island by name.

For some to pray for Boris in London will challenge, for others to pray for Leo in Dublin will challenge. Many hold opinions on Arlene and Michelle as I do myself, but our opinions seem to be pushed down the list when it comes to praying for those in authority over us. Whether we like them or not is immaterial: we are to pray for them!

The times we live in means that many in authority are themselves struggling to make the right decisions, struggling to set aside their own prejudices and usual political gain maneuverings, struggling to make good and wise decisions. They have been entrusted with a huge responsibility.

Now is a time to pray for them and to reserve our criticisms for a better day!

This is a call to your knees as you stand in the gap for your community, nation and the world, at a time of great turmoil; when surprisingly every nation is leveled by the measuring stick of the Coronavirus.

So for the people of Drumbeg, and all our friends following this daily update, I ask that at 12noon (midday), every day, until further notice, we stop and pray for just 2 minutes for ourselves, those we share this island and planet with, and for all political leaders across the world, that through them the wisdom, counsel, and goodness of God would be at work in a new way to heal, restore and make new in the light of the Coronavirus.

I gently whisper that if you are politically and instinctively an Irish citizen, boldly pray for Boris Johnson and Arlene Foster. If you are politically and instinctively a British citizen, boldly pray for Leo Varadkar and Michelle O’Neill – then we are humbling ourselves in prayer and the counsel of God is simple in 2nd Chronicles 14 and verse 2:
 “… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’

It seems God’s recipe for the road back from this disaster is humble, penitent and intercessory prayer.

Stand in the gap with me and stop to pray today for just 2 minutes at 12noon and repeat this until better days come.

Don’t just stand there – pray something.

Every blessing for safety and peace of mind for you and your families.

Rev’d Willie.

Ps. To be added to our daily reflection what’s app group message me today.

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