The World Day of Prayer invokes images of Christians worldwide, taking time to pray not only for their own country, family, and desires; but for all humankind. God’s family. God’s world. God’s desires.
This year’s theme is taken from Jeremiah 29:11. “I know the plans I have for you…” We will no doubt be forgiven if our immediate response is “Care to share?”
When I began fashioning this post, I was considering what to say when so much of the world is experiencing challenges that seem never-ending. We are, hopefully, seeing the pandemic coming under control after two years of hardships for the world, with regard to jobs, finances, and loss of loved ones, numbering 434,006,158 worldwide at this writing.
Hatred, racism and violence has been on the rise, relentlessly hammering at Martin Luther King Jr. and Viktor Frankl’s hopeful dreams.
And now, as the post was resting, awaiting final edit, Russia invades Ukraine. The world struggles with the images of invading troops under Putin and the brave Ukrainians stalwartly defending their homeland. The world desperately ponders the delicate balance between helping Ukraine, under current rules and actions that most certainly would cause an entry into World War III.
How, in current events, are we to process the Lord’s declaration that he knows the plans he has for us? Taking the phrase out of context, some cry: “Why God, why? When God, when?” Taken in context, we see a call to faith.
Just before the text of the theme, Jeremiah tells us “8… the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:8-9 NIV)
How are we to know the difference? Who is the truthteller, when we live in an era where truth seems to be, at times, in short supply? We have loving families divided by politics, where all have at one time or another claimed God is on their side.
Jeremiah completes the theme of verse 11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Those with an image of God as tooth fairy, see this as giving over their blueprint, their wish list, for God to fulfill. However, this is not what is said. God has plans. What’s more, he is addressing those who will have to endure 70 years of hardship and grow where he has planted them during that time. One more thing.
“12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14 NIV)
There it is. In the most difficult and chaotic time of life, God’s people are to seek him wholeheartedly. It is not that God needs to find us. We need to find him. It is his desire to gather all nations – this world, his world – together. The kicker in all of this is that scholars do not agree on the 70 years. Actual chronological time. Just a long time. Seventy is considered a sacred number comprised of seven, seen as representing perfection, and ten, representing completeness and God’s law.
We are clock watchers. How soon? How long? What day? What time? God’s time is more here and now. He calls us to join him in this present day and circumstance.
On this World Day of Prayer may we fall to our knees and pray for our sisters and brothers around the world. Let us not focus on when this will all end. Let our prayers be for God’s will for his world to be realized. Let it truly begin with us. Let us seek his order for our days and guidance for how we might help our fellow citizens of his world in small ways each day. Let us pray that we may not be drummed into submission by false prophets and naysayers. Let us pray for world peace and God’s people to look to him, in faith: to gain the strength needed for all difficult times.
Father God, help us to be the people you created us to be. That we may hold on in faith, stand up to injustice in your strength. May we know this is your world along with every individual and land within it. Grant us a supernatural faith from which we might be encouraged and with which we might encourage others. Amen.
Journey through Lent with this downloadable bundle featuring Prayer Cards, 40 Daily Ideas Guide for Lent, and our Lenten devotional – A Journey Into Wholeness: Soul Travel from Lent to Easter. Bundled together for convenience and savings!