Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “prayer”

Pray as We Respond to God’s Mission

This month’s newsletter looks at how we reconcile evangelism and social justice. Join us as we pray for greater wisdom and guidance as we respond to God’s mission of redeeming and restoring people spiritually and physically. By Lindsay Sherring

Photo Credit: Raymond Larose via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Raymond Larose via Compfight cc

Did you know that you are part of God’s big mission?  Yes, you!  It may be difficult to comprehend that God in His infinite wisdom has picked you to carry out His mission to the world, but He has.  You might be asking, “What exactly does that mean?”  God’s mission is so multi-faceted, but at the core He calls us to share His incredible goodness to those around us.  This not only includes sharing His word through evangelism, but also meeting people’s economic and social needs through service.  The two go hand-in-hand!

As Christ-followers, God has given us great motivation to carry out His mission – He gave His only son so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be reconciled with Him forever. It is out of this place of gratefulness that we should carry out His mission.  How exciting it is to be part of His work!

This month, please pray:

  • That you have a deeper revelation of God’s goodness and love

It can be easy to slip into carrying out God’s mission out of a place of obligation or guilt, but that’s not what God wants from us.  Our motivation should come from our realisation of God’s goodness and from an understanding of the weight of what He’s done for us. Pray that your actions come out of a place of revelation and understanding, not of guilt.

  • That you show God’s goodness to everyone

When God asks us to show His goodness to people, He doesn’t mean only the vulnerable.  We are to proclaim His goodness to anyone and everyone that comes across our path.  As you go through this month, pray that your eyes would be opened to the needs of those around you in the many situations that you encounter.

  • That the church as a whole would understand God’s heart

It can be easy to forget that the church doesn’t have a mission, the mission has a church.  Ultimately, the body of Christ is to carry out God’s heart, not any specific agenda.  His desire is that we incorporate evangelism and social justice as we carry out His mission.  Pray that the hearts of individuals and leaders would be tuned to God’s heart and His mission for their lives.

  • That we participate in God’s mission

Reading about God’s mission and doing something about it are two different things. If we become a people who are all talk and no action, our message of Christ’s love loses all credibility. Pray that you feel convicted to courageously carry out the mission of God.  Ask God what this looks like in your own life and then seek to live accordingly.

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Praying for Discernment

This month’s newsletter looks at how we can discern the will of God in our daily lives. Join us as we pray for greater discernment as we respond to those around us. By Lindsay Sherring

As Christ-followers, we are called to respond to the needs of those around us, but this requires great discernment in order to know what the best response is for that person or situation. We need discernment not just in dealing with vulnerable people, but in dealing with our own personal life decisions as well. Should I give this person money? Should I drive them to a shelter? Should I take this job? Or marry this person? The decisions we need to make are endless.

We all want to make the right choice, but how do we respond to people amidst the busyness of our daily life? Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut formula to helping those in need around us. But we do serve an all-powerful and all-knowing God so our first response should always be to seek Him. It all comes down to God desiring us to be closer to Him and His will. As we walk closely with God, His whispers and desires become evident and our decisions begin to fall in line with His will.

This month, please pray…

  • That God’s desires and wisdom would become clear to you

It may sound simple, but asking God to place His desires on your heart is a great starting point to understanding His will. If we are not constantly seeking Him, it becomes harder to discern just what He wants for our lives. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment to make the right choices.

  • That the fear of making a wrong decision won’t hinder action

There are many ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of helping others and sometimes the fear of ‘doing justice incorrectly’ can overcome our desire to help and we end up not doing anything. Remember, God can restore and redeem any situation even if you think you’ve done the wrong thing. This doesn’t give us permission to flippantly ‘do justice’, rather it is a comfort to know that God has the ability to correct our mistakes and use them for His glory.

  • That we would be open to hear God speak in different ways

God can speak through His word, the people around you, industry professionals, articles you read, etc. We must take all of these messages and use our best judgement when faced with a situation that requires our action. It is important to remember that although there are various sources of information and ways to help those in need, God will never ask you to do something out of line with His word. Ask God to give you discernment to hear his voice through all of it.

  • That you seek and find the third way

Discernment is about finding the third way in many situations. A person may be asking you for money, you may want to drive them to the shelter, but what they really need is prayer. Don’t become so wrapped up in your own dos and don’ts of reaching out that you forget to listen to God’s promptings. Ask God to reveal people’s true needs so that you can respond appropriately in a Christ-like way.

– Lindsay is a member of the Common Ground Bosch PM congregation and is the fundraising coordinator at Common Good.

Are You A Prayer Warrior?

Andre Ntambwe reflects on the power of prayer.

Why is prayer so important when it comes to responding to poverty and injustice? The answer is simple. In prayer, we align our hearts with God’s heart and we freshly rely on his ability to bring about change, and not our own.

When you think of poverty, what do you see? The images that come to mind are probably mainly physical, the lack of food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, right? These all form part of poverty but what we often fail to see is the spiritual dimension which is also at play; the hopelessness, despair and powerlessness that exist.

Chapter 6 of Ephesians makes me believe that prayer is an important weapon we can use when addressing the root of poverty. We need to pray continuously that God will open the spiritual eyes of men and women to see pockets of pain in our city. We also need to pray for those living in poverty that they would begin to see themselves as image-bearers of a loving God.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, but we should never use it as an excuse to not do anything to help those made vulnerable by poverty and injustice. We need to pray for those who see physical suffering and who do nothing about it that they may become true ambassadors of Christ by proclaiming the gospel through practical and loving action.

It is in this balance of seeking God and acting in faith that the true power of prayer is revealed!

– Andre serves on the eldership team of the Common Ground Church Wynberg congregation with his wife Sabrina. He is also the founder of NETwork

(Photography by Sneekk, via Flickr.com)

A Balancing Act: Prayer and Action

When we come face-to-face with injustice, it’s often hard to know what the appropriate response is. Should we lift our eyes in prayer or get our hands dirty helping? Linda Martindale writes that it’s in a balance between the two that God can really use us to bring his Kingdom to earth. 

It was one of those defining moments in my faith journey and life. I was fairly new to Cape Town and excited to be a part of a Christian prayer march through the streets of the city. It was the mid-nineties. Thousands of Christians gathered and we worshipped as we walked down Adderley Street towards the Parade where a service of sorts was to be held. I was at the back of the crowd, and came across a homeless man lying in the street who had clearly just had a fit or seizure of some kind. Thousands of people had literally passed him with their eyes on the sky, singing a worship song about ‘lifting our eyes’ or something of the sort. It was not that nobody had done anything that shocked me the most, but that it seemed as if nobody had seen him. I was shaken up, moved and upset – it became a turning point for me.

I had spent two years of my early young adult life on a music and drama team that had gone around South Africa in ‘90 and ‘91, singing about Jesus and the freedom he brought to all, and doing drama in churches and malls six days out of seven. And praying … a lot! Whilst around me my country was burning. Yes, it was a racially mixed team which was unusual and life changing at the time, and yes, it was not a wasted experience, but it was so removed from the realities of what was going on in South Africa. Children were in prison. Extremists were being … extreme. Violence threatened peaceful negotiations. Believers were segregated. The last throes of apartheid were in full force. And I … was praying and singing, completely unaware of what was going on around me. I look back on those years with some shame and sadness.

On that day of the march, I recognised an uncomfortable truth about my faith journey. I had spent my Christian years to date praying, but with my head in the sand; without being salt and light, or getting my proverbial ‘hands dirty’. I had spent hours interceding, but with no real understanding of what the real issues were in our nation at the time. As I left the march that day and tended to this suffering, vulnerable man on the side of the road, I vowed never to get caught up with my eyes in the clouds again. And as so often happens, I swung too far to the other side – a pendulum wanting to get as far away from its opposite extreme as possible. I threw myself into action with a frenzy that, I suspect, was fuelled by an attempt at compensation for the years I had had my ‘eyes on the clouds.’

I served and fought and acted and started projects and ministries and … burned out, but that is a story for another day. The point is – so averse to the ‘spiritual pie-in-the-sky-ness’ of the Christian marchers that I saw that day, I threw off the awareness of the spiritual dimensions of suffering, injustice, poverty, greed, materialism, power and the status quo. And started battling these ‘kingdom issues’, in a one-dimensional way – hence the burn out, disappointment, anger and despair that followed. In more recent years, I was more deeply exposed to a community who believe that one cannot do one without the other, and who have discipled me in excellent development practice and intentional spiritual engagement, under-girded by a deeper understanding of the Kingdom that Jesus spoke so much about. I am grateful for the awakening to the transforming power of the whole Gospel, and how God invites us to be integral in what he is doing in the world.

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Photo of the Month: Child-like Prayer

“On a recent assignment out in the rural areas of St. Lucia, KZN, I stopped in at a local school to photograph their awareness of indigenous trees. On arrival at the school it was assembly time and I came across a very heart-warming experience. Around 400 school children were saying their daily prayer, but there was something different about this everyday morning prayer. Each child was praying from their heart and with all their might.

“Recently, I have been reading how we should come to God in prayer as a child and this picture really spoke to me about what that really means. It was not only the words of the prayer but the emotions on the children’s faces: complete faith, belief, trust and focus on who they were praying to. Looking back at this photo, I felt so humbled to pray to God like a child, with all my heart and with all my might!” – Em Gatland

– Em Gatland is a photographer based in Kwa-Zulu Natal. To view more photos from her trip to St. Lucia, click here.

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