Last Sunday evening I was reading ‘Dirty Glory’ by Pete Greig. You may have heard of him: he’s the founder of the 24-7 prayer movement. I bought his book before Christmas somehow not realising it was about prayer and when I started to read it, around about the same time I began to think my one word for 2017 should be ‘pray’, I sensed that purchasing it hasn’t been as random as I thought.
I was reading about Pete’s move to America and how he began to feel comfortable. His ideas of pioneering were petering out and he was starting to feel ready to settle for a more ordinary life.
I was sitting on my sofa by the fire reading these words at the end of a weekend when the travel ban instituted by Trump was causing inhumane and unnecessary distress to many people. When the world seemed to be growing darker not lighter. When friends no longer wanted to identify themselves as christians because of the confusion of people using that term to describe their actions which seem to have nothing to do with love or the Prince of Peace.
I was heartbroken and unsure. And then I read Dirty Glory and realised that only 29 days into my year of ‘pray’ I was already feeling like I’d be willing to settle for less. Adventures with God are all well and good, but I’m tired and I’d like a quiet life.
I put down the book and wrote some stuff on social media. I wrote about my identity as a christian and a person and my distress at what I saw happening.
I put it up there and waited. I didn’t expect much response – and I didn’t get much response.
Until the next morning when a neighbour replied to one of my posts. She thanked me for writing it. Turned out she and her (muslim) family had that weekend been racially abused for the first time in her children’s lives. She didn’t want to mention it to anyone but knowing that I was being loudly (in social media terms) condemnatory of the actions of Trump which I took to be racist and inflammatory, she felt able to tell us about it. Her friends responded online and soon she was receiving affirmation and comfort.
Her son is in my son’s class at school. We are very near neighbours in the same street. If I hadn’t posted we wouldn’t have known about the injustices being felt in her life.
‘Pray’ is not simply about something that happens inside my head or between God and me. It’s about the stirring I get to do something; to say something; to be something. It’s about me responding to God in such a way that He can actually use me to be light for someone else.
Tomorrow I’m going to join a larger protest in London to show that I don’t support what is happening, nor the way it’s being enforced. That will be my prayer. As I march I will be throwing myself on God’s mercy and doing what I can to be visibly more like Jesus – to care for the oppressed and the hurting.
I think I might also be on the brink of setting up some sort of local database of racist incidents . I have a sense that that is also part of my prayers’ answer. I’ll keep you posted.