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Ankle deep, up to our waists – then swimming freely! Extending our prayers from the particular to the wider

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you . . . (Col. 4:12-13)

Something I have found helpful over the years as a ‘way in’ to praying for ‘wider’ topics (especially I have been feeling somewhat dwarfed by the sheer size of some of them) is to start by focusing on one or two people or situations, and taking them as being ‘representative’ of a profession, community or even nation.

So if, for example, the thought of praying for education seems too big a task to contemplate – start by praying for someone you know who goes to school, or who teaches in one. As we identify with these dear ones they become our starting point, from which we move on to pray for all who – in mathematical terms – fall into their {sets of} schools, nurses businesses and so on. Suddenly, and almost without effort, we realise that we have gone from ‘ankle deep’ to waist deep and now are swimming freely in the gift of praying for education! We can do the same for the NHS, or for any big issue, organisation or even nation.

This seriously moving brief clip (from CBN.com) of Josh Kezer, who was sentenced to sixty years imprisonment for something he hadn’t done, serves as an excellent prompt to pray for those who are the innocent victims of allegations – as well as a powerful testimony of reaching out with grace to those who are not innocent!

Is it fair to expect God to answer ‘generalised’ (as opposed to personalised) prayers? I think it is. When I was at Oxford, David Watson led a major mission to the university, accompanied by a team of assistant missioners. The Lord told this group that if they were prepared to make sacrifices at night and pray, He would raise up a harvest of souls. They were faithful to that calling – and one hundred and fifty of us students  gave our lives to the Lord during that memorable week – including, quite separately, my flat mate.

That was back in 1976. Within two years at least eight of us were in ‘full time’ service for the Lord. Only the Lord knows how many have come to know Jesus over the course of these forty plus years through the witness of those who came to faith then. But behind their example lie the faithfulness of those who were prepared to toil in prayer for people they would never know by name – in this world at least. May we be ready to respond as the Spirit of prayer stirs within us.