Today I’m excited to share this post from my friend, Elsbeth Elisha. She recently started a project, called ChrisisPrayer, to unite the church in praying over ISIS-related events everyday. Join her at www.crisisprayer.com.
I sit on my parent’s blue corduroy couch and I sob. I can’t stop crying. I don’t have any desire to even try. My mom glances over her shoulder to check on me. “Clark, turn it off! It’s upsetting Elsbeth! Hurry up!” My dad fumbles through six almost identical TV and DVD changers, searching for the right pause button. My tears are now clearly upsetting my parents. I take it to the kitchen and try to breathe, but the crying continues for days. I am helpless. Overwhelmed by grief and sadness. Desperate.
This was my experience watching the first fifteen minutes of “The Pianist.” It’s a movie about the holocaust. I hope to watch the whole thing someday, but I haven’t yet worked up the courage. In that first fifteen minutes, there is a scene where the main character is looking out his window at a tall building across the street. He watches as Nazis enter one of the upper floors. You hear shouting, screaming. Then you see two uniformed men come out onto the balcony, rolling along an old man in a wheelchair. They pick up the wheelchair, lift it over the railing, and drop it — the old man still sitting inside. He falls. My heart races just recalling the image. I don’t know if it shows him hit the ground. My eyes were closed, spilling over.
There have been a few other times in my life where I’ve had this kind of uncontrollable emotional response to something. The helpless grief, however, is a regular experience. There are so many horrible things happening in the world. Not just stories from times past. Current events. Women raped as an “act of worship,” refugees dying in a desperate scramble to reach safety, children forced to cut out tongues or kill their own families – not allowed to shed a tear.
Surely God did not create us to do nothing! Surely he gave us hearts to grieve but also minds and bodies to get involved.
“You can pray,” God replied, though I thought it was a rhetorical question.
“Just pray?” I asked.
“Just pray??” He whispered back, with a disappointed smirk. “If you only knew…”
I’ve always seen prayer as something that “works.” Something that comforts. Something that connects me to God and to other people. But prayer as a powerful force for global change is a concept that has just begun to sink in. God is growing a vision in me of prayer as a corporate act of participation in global suffering and pain. Prayer as the Church, gathered together and standing beside the oppressed. The Church, interceding and expectantly awaiting that our God will reveal Himself to the world in mighty and undeniable ways.
This is the purpose of ChrisisPrayer: to call together and join the global Church in praying every day for one year over ISIS and those who are affected by its violence. We as the body of Christ have been given the power to be catalysts for change. This is our calling. Let’s live into it.
ChrisisPrayer is a new project intended to call together the global Church in unified prayer over specific, global issues. Beginning in September 2015, we are praying daily over events related to ISIS and its impact on our world. Sign up at www.chrisisprayer.com.