Often I used to wonder why God asks us to pray. After all, He knows everything, right? Will He not bless a friend, or not supply a desperate need if I do not ask?
Will He really let someone suffer because I am an unfaithful prayerer? And the simple answer is, YES!, but there is much more to it than that.
First of all, gathering around a table for supper, one could reach across for the salt or potatoes, or you could walk around the table to get what you want. But we are a family sitting here, and the courteous and involved thing to do is to ask, becoming aware of who else is at the table, and this asking opens up a whole world of communication, of communion, for those eating around the table. In this way, we are at the Table of the LORD, and He invites us to participate. Maybe Father will pass the salt to another even if you do not ask, but He wants us to be involved with each other and with what He is doing at the Table.
And there is that mystery that Ezekiel spoke of in Ezekiel 19, putting responsibility on the “watchman” to warn of God’s judgment or to share in it, to be held “accountable for their blood.” This is not a light matter.
So we pray, we call others to prayer, we encourage, teach and exhort others to pray and to find grace for ourselves and for those with whom we share the Table, and trust Him to pass the salt.
As I pray for my former students every night, I usually picture them in their various “usual” seats as they sat in Basic Ecology. Sarah and Suggi, who always came early and would help arrange the chairs from the mess left by the previous users, usually sat to my left, side by side. In front of them was the sweet Altanzul, who went by Aagii then, but whose fuller name seems to roll off the tongue. Behind them would be Bujee and Pujee and Helen; Philipp would always sit in the very back, playing baseball on his smart-phone, but fortunately was smarter than the phone, and did well in the class. To the right, and in front would sit our surprise-mother-to-be, Molly, who kept her pregnancy a secret until she had to deliver a few weeks early before the semester ended. Behind her sat the Afghan cohort of some of the greatest guys to ever come out of the Mid-East: Atash, Hussain, Reza, Sajjad, Nasim, and Maisam; and the two most beautiful Afghan women in the world, Razia and Somaia. To their right would be the four men of the Mongolian contingent, Tsogoo, Conq, Munhuu, and Erdenetulga. Scattered around the room depending on if they were sneaking in after the Bell-Ringer Quiz or if they had slept early enough to come in on time were Mandal, Tume, Grace, Nicole, and Ona. Along with Philipp in the rear would be my four Korean friends, John (Sunghun), Jay (Sung Min) and Yoon Se, and Min. Somewhere towards the rear would be the quietly brilliant Uynaa, who was valedictorian that year. And almost always, right in front of me was Ariunaa B, so named because the class had begun with two Ariunaas, “N” dropping before the semester went very far.
And, yes, I remember every one of the 31 of them, as I “walk around” the room and present each of them by name to the Heavenly Father, asking for His protection, blessing, wisdom and guidance, and that they each would discover how good He is.
Beyond them are Narangoo, Oyu, and Amme who all took special places in my heart though they were not in my class, along with most of the faculty from MIU. And then, my very best Mongolian friends, Dorjbat and Tuya, who are expecting their first little one very soon. And Ariunaa, our landlady, who adopted her Mongolian name somehow from Yee Ling. And Ariuka, our Alliance Builders Scholarship student.
And the “grocery list” goes on through the watches of the night, with family and FAC friends and others from around the world with whom we stay in contact, from across the U.S. to Australia to Guinea, until Jesus and I have walked all the way round the earth, east to west.
If you received an invitation to read this, you are probably on that “grocery list,” although a few of you are not. I am small and can only see so far up and down the Table.
And “grocery list” praying is only the tip of an icicle on an iceberg of prayers, into which Father invites us. But we’ll begin here, with the grocery list. Put me on yours,