Last week Dyen returned from her home in Indonesia where she spent four months as an intern with the United Nations working with refugees. Next month she will graduate with a Master’s degree in Social Work from Baylor University. She is a remarkable Christian, always bubbling with life, energy and happiness. She spent the night with us upon her arrival. The next morning we visited over breakfast on our patio.
I usually spend the early mornings in devotion and prayer in my back yard. The sun slowly rises, flickering through the sycamore leaves until it clears the trees and floods the yard with light. Most of my prayers are for personal things, the day-to-day things most of us are concerned about. I pray for friends who are battling cancer, a friend recovering from an accident and for my four-year-old granddaughter who fell and broke her pinky finger. I give thanks to God for his answers, continually amazed at how often He seems to listen and how often He seems to answer.
But this morning we visited with Dyen.
I asked her about her work with the refugees. Her face grew clouded with sadness. She told us of a child who watched her mother die, a boy who returned home to find his house destroyed and his family dead, a little girl who lifted her skirt to show the bullet wounds she had suffered. None of the children in the refugee camp have parents. Most of the girls have been raped.
She told how she had struggled as a Christian to counsel these, trying to give hope and encouragement to innocent children victimized by war, oppression, vengeance and violence. I suddenly felt my prayer life to be rather small. Dyen’s burdened voice brought us close to the cruel stories easily dismissed as so much “news.”
I was reminded of what Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” What would that look like? I suppose it would look like Jesus’ response to John when John asked if He was the Messiah. Jesus said, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Luke 7:22).
I am beginning to pray more for these distant places and these victims. I am praying more for our own nation. I am praying that God will turn the tide of violence, anger, hatred, resentment, prejudice and vengeance. The world seems increasingly dangerous. If His Kingdom were to come on earth, all of this would be swept away, replaced with kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, forgiveness and love.
We cannot control national events. But we can make a difference in the place where we are. Like Dyen seeking to comfort refugees in Indonesia. We can bring the Kingdom near where we live and wherever we go, like Jesus did when He walked through the hills of Galilee.
It is okay to pray for our immediate personal concerns. After all, Jesus taught us to ask for “daily bread.” But too often my prayers stop there. They need to go beyond to the Kingdom issues that reside in the heart of God.