Feature

I Was Arrested

Caught without a prayer

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It happened as I was driving home from an Alliance Women meeting. I was arrested, but it’s not what you think. As I rounded the corner onto the highway, I was shocked to hear myself suddenly singing out loud: “Have your eyes caught the vision?/Has your heart felt the thrill?/To the call of the Master do you answer ‘I will’?/For the conflict of the ages,/ Told by prophets and by sages,/In its fury is upon us,/Is upon us today.”*

The song goes back to my teen years. It challenged me then, but this time it did more. It seemed to arrest my consciousness. I could think of nothing else!

Because I am not the “outburst” type, I asked myself, What’s happening? Before I could answer my own question, I sensed the Lord saying, The conflict of the ages is between Satan and Me. I am calling you to prayer—battleground prayer. Are you willing to get serious about interceding? Humbled and thrilled to be entrusted with that privilege, I answered, “Yes.”

TOO SMALL, TOO BROAD

The first line of that old hymn talks about vision. I asked myself, How does my vision of needs compare to God’s vision? The people and needs that I saw consisted of my relatives, my church family, several friends in ministry and the odd special effort at my church.

God showed me that my vision was too small and too general. It needed to expand and include specific prayers, especially for missionaries. They are definitely in the “confl ict of the ages.” That’s when I remembered the list of prayer requests that retired missionary Ruth Patterson gave out at the meeting. I thought, I could put that page into a three-ring binder and use it in daily prayer time, so I would not forget to pray specifically for those requests.

I started on a quest to get more missionaries’ prayer letters. They weren’t hard to find: there were usually a few lying around in the church foyer or available from the church office or the Alliance Women president.

I contacted several missionaries to get on their mailing lists. But I noticed that by the time I got the letters by regular mail, a lot of the events needing prayer had passed. I wondered if my husband and I should invest in a computer so we could receive the missionary letters by e-mail. At our senior age, would we be able to figure out how to use it?

We prayed about it for a week or two. Then, one morning we read in our devotional book, “Don’t be a typewriter in a computer age!” We now get missionaries’ letters by e-mail, print them out and put them in a binder in alphabetical order. My husband and I pray for two or three of them every day. Of course, local needs also have a place in our “prayer binder.” No one is forgotten.

I notice that specific requests get specific answers. None of that vague, “God bless the missionaries” praying we did in the past. What are their names, where are they working, what are their present needs, future plans? Who do they want us to pray for? At the same time we are open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to pray for needs not listed.

Is intercessory prayer a “call,” as the hymn suggests? We all know that we should pray—and we all know that we should care about others. The command to pray is not just for a special few. Specific needs of Alliance workers are available to everyone.

CONFLICT OF THE AGES

Anyone who prays much knows that prayer is an important part “the conflict of the ages.” Maintaining a regular prayer time is a battle—the phone rings, the dog wants out, the cat wants in, you remember things you should put on your “to do” list.

If Satan can’t sidetrack us with mundane distractions, he has more subtle tactics. He uses the weaknesses of our personalities to try to get us out of God’s will by interfering with our prayer life. But the blessings of being in His presence, sharing the burdens of His children, are worth the effort.

Lately, I’ve been especially burdened for missionaries and national Christians who live and work in countries where it is illegal to follow Jesus. Believers are beaten, arrested and held in jail for years. Their homes and churches are confiscated or burned, their children taken from them and their Bibles destroyed. These stories of persecution, internment, torture and murder have often sent me to the Lord in fervent prayer.

The hymn writer asks, “Has your heart felt the thrill?” It is thrilling to actually be in the presence of the holy, almighty Creator of heaven and earth! Our great God trusts us to intercede for the needs that are close to His heart.

Thousands of miles away from the person we are praying for, we deposit a need at the throne of a loving Father God, and a missionary in Africa passes safely through scary check points in a country torn by political unrest. Or a sick missionary recovers. Through intercessory prayer, we can participate in the Word being translated into another language or a school or hospital getting needed personnel. With the help of prayer, relief organizations get help to people suffering because of a hurricane or an earthquake. When we pray, nationals are born again and a church is planted.

Have you been arrested lately?

–*For the Conflict of the Ages_ by Mrs. C. H. Morris

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