Thinking about the current situation especially the reports coming out of New York City, it reminded me of a forest fire burning out of control and how people in California hope and pray that firefighters can get it under control before it comes their way. Then I thought about how often I feel sad but relatively unaffected by this pretty common annual occurrence, perhaps stopping to pray – and I say this to my own shame – if I’m not too busy with other things.
As I went to prayer this morning, I started to pray as I have been, for my family, our church family, our community, our country, and the crisis as a whole around the world. Gently the Lord spoke to my heart, letting me know that my prayers were in the wrong direction. They were started inward (me and mine) and progressed outward to the world. The Lord reminded me how, as a new creation led by the Spirit, I should be thinking outwardly, like Jesus did. Philippians 2:5–7 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…” Yes….what a great reminder.
So let me pass my lesson on to you this morning. As believers, let’s focus our prayers from the outside in. Let’s pray in earnest for those who are currently suffering around the world – as we would hope others would pray for us – for God’s healing mercy and grace and for strength for grieving families. Let’s pray for those on the front lines – healthcare workers, scientists, people in all sorts of decision making positions. Then let’s pray for our country, our state, our community, our church family, our families, and ourselves. Let’s pray from outward in and just maybe, by God’s grace, that fire will be put out before it gets here.