Over the last month, Micah Australia has hosted prayer and worship gatherings in major cities across Australia to pray for the church, our nation, our leaders and the world. What is it about prayer and gathering together as a part of our advocacy that’s so important?
Last Friday on a chilly Melbourne night, people from across the city gathered together at the North Fitzroy Community Church. We sat around tables with candles and colouring in sheets as a part of Micah Australia’s prayer and worship gatherings, which have been taking place across Australia in the lead up to the election. It was a wonderful night of worship and reflection.
I was struck with how much I resonated with the simple act of sitting in silence to think, write and pray. My normal approach to advocacy tends to be that of a busybody who is concerned with outcomes and momentum. I admit that slowing down to bring the causes on my heart to God is not always a part of that process. However, in doing so I am ignoring one of the most powerful acts of advocacy we are capable of.
Prayer is an amazing and powerful invitation to have our concerns understood, empathised with and heard by God. More than that, I often forget who it is we pray to. When I pause to think about it, I am always amazed that it is the Creator God who is loving, righteous, faithful and who hates injustice that we are invited to talk to. How silly I am to forget this and not utilise this opportunity. If we recognise the power in advocating to the leaders in our communities, how much more powerful it is to also be able to go with this to God himself.
There is much to be grieved of and incensed about in our world, especially concerning extreme poverty. There is also a lot that we can feel frustrated by in the face of an election. Sometimes we do not know what to do with these feelings. Perhaps we simply feel overwhelmed or too angry to take it to God. However the pain and injustice that we cry out for is felt intimately by God, as after all it is His creation, His children who suffer. This is the amazing reality of our faith, we have a God who truly understands and wants to hear from us.
On Friday night we gathered together for a time of worship through song and then shared prayers and readings for the church, our leaders, our nation and the world. We prayed for a united church that would be God’s hands and feet, for leaders who would have courage and integrity, for Australia to be a generous nation and remember what it is to be a good neighbour, for a world that strives for peace where systemic structures of injustice are dismantled.
We then had a time of reflection where each person present could write their own prayers and attach them to a candle. We placed our prayers and candles across the room at stations dedicated to each focus of prayer. It was beautiful to see the room become lighter and lighter as more and more prayers were lit. This visual representation of our prayers being lifted to God gave me a tangible sense of the type of peace and hope that prayer provides. One of the great things about an event like this is being able to come together and celebrate different expressions of love, worship and prayer. It was so encouraging to see people who did not necessarily know each other united by a concern for a more just world.
Amongst life’s busyness prayer provides a fantastic space for us to pause: to allow the stillness and depths of our soul and heart to have time with God. Advocacy involves both prayer and action. We are God’s hands and feet and we should dedicate our lives to the practical outworking as well as praying for, His mercy, compassion and justice in our communities and world.
Taminka Hanscamp is a volunteer for TEAR Australia.