The Journey 72: Transformation in my parish
Read: Nehemiah 4
Key Bible Verse: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” [ Psalms 50:15]
IHOP: Ask any one in United States what IHOP stands for, they will say it without blinking an eyelid, that it is the well known restaurant that offers delicious pancakes and the 7x7 dollar menu items, and the restaurant where a majority of people go or have gone, to either have their breakfast or brunch. IHOP is a household name here in in the United Sates. But in Kansas City, Missouri, IHOP does not just stand for International House of Pancakes. It is also an acronym for International House of Prayer. What is unique about this church is that this church started a prayer chain on Sept. 19, 1999, and I believe it still has not stopped. This was reported by Los Angeles Times. Through out the day, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there is a live music being played. You can find the church packed sometimes even in the early hours of the morning, where you find people coming from all over the United States and Mexico to worship and hear the worship band playing songs of worship. There are about 25 bands playing in the church for a two hour session. This group is a growing movement who believes in the concept that prayer is the most effective weapon to be used for spiritual warfare. This group has also courted controversy when the IHOP filed a case against them, but it was resolved out of the court. Whatever be the controversy, we can applaud a group who 24x7, 365 days are making people aware the importance of the ministry of prayer in times of today when grave moral and ethical issues are stalking individual and community living. This church stands for what a true transformation in a parish truly means. If transformation in our parish has to take place I believe every member in the parish has to be part of this ministry, the ministry of prayer and intercession.
This week we are meditating on the theme “ Transformation in our parish”, based on the life and ministry of Nehemiah. In the portion that we are using for our meditation, which is Nehemiah 4, we find, Nehemiah inspiring the people to build the wall, and when the wall was built half of its height, there is renewed and vigorous opposition from Sanballat and Tobiah [Nehemiah 4: 1-8]. But when opposition come from them, look at the strategy that Nehemiah uses. Here is a man who is the cup bearer of the King. He has power and authority in his hand. Anyone in his place would use his power and authority to annihilate any opposition that he may encounter be it Sanballat or Tobiah. But Nehemiah does not do that, on the contrary, he uses an entirely different weapon from his armoury, the armour of prayer. Here is a leader when faced with an issue, does not take or do whatever he pleases because what he was doing was morally and ethically right. But he consciously places his issue and dilemma in the hands of the Lord. In verse 9 we find, people praying to the Lord. I believe we learn a very valuable lesson from Nehemiah and the people here. When there are issues in the parish, how many of us resort to this weapon of victory which is prayer?. On the contrary we all use our power and might to deal and face the issues that crops up in our parish life and ministry. Whenever there is opposition it is the opportune time to know the will of God and also to proceed in the way and means that God wants us to do. When there is opposition in the parish, it is the time that reminds us that we need the grace and strength of God to carry His work, rather than being over confident on our strength and our abilities.
What each parish needs today is people who can look up to God in prayer and say “ God our parish is facing an issue, give us your grace and wisdom through prayer to solve this issue”. I believe if every member in our parish, humbles himself/herself in this way before God, there wont be any issues in the parish.
If life gets too hard to Stand– Kneel [ Gordon B Hinckley]
Let us Pray: Dear Lord we often depend on our strength and our abilities to solve the issues that we face in our parish. Thank you for teaching us that it is in the power of prayer that can help us to view our problems and issues in a new light and face it successfully. Amen