My heart was so heavy last night as my news feed filled with story after story of horror against the most vulnerable. Terrorists surrounding an Iraq village, demanding that families convert or die. Thousands trapped on a barren mountain without food or water, followed by pictures of parents placing limp, already dead children in a dusty pile.
I could hardly fathom the picture of a hardened terrorist sporting a huge grin and an arm slung around his new little 7-year-old bride, whose tear-strewn face showed unmitigated fear as she wrung chubby fingers. Even locally, there was news of the heartless stabbing of a 6-year-old boy at the hands of his grandmother.
I had planned to write a story about children’s books. I thought about sharing some of my favorite home school tips. But, to be honest, as I watched news coverage unfold, my heart sank and I was left wondering what one suburban mom can even do about the terror and genocide and missile attacks going on right now. And so I closed my laptop and hoped I would feel good enough in the morning to write about children’s books.
I didn’t feel better this morning. But a story I had read recently in The Insanity of God kept coming back to me. In the book, Nik Ripken recounts the story of Dmitri, a Russian factory worker, imprisoned for opening his home as a house church.*
For 17 years, Dmitri was physically and psychologically tortured, while authorities did “unspeakable things” to his wife and sons at home. Finally, after years of torture, the guards convinced him that his wife had been murdered and his sons taken by the state. Unable to withstand any more, Dmitri said, “You win! I will sign any confession that you want me to sign. I must get out of here to find where my children are.”
But Dmitri’s family had not been killed. In their home, the Holy Spirit was making them aware of Dmitri’s great despair. They knelt and prayed out loud together – and 1000 kilometers away, alone in his dark cell, Dmitri was able to hear them praying.
The next morning, when the guards presented a confession to Dmitri in exchange for his freedom, he refused to sign. Demanding to know why, Dmitri told them he knew his wife and sons were alive because God had allowed him to hear their voices as they prayed!
The effective, fervent prayers of the righteous availeth much. James 5:16
We have got to take God at His word. What can one suburban mom do about atrocities going on right now in the world? Fervently pray. Prayer is not a last resort. Prayer is our primary power.
We may never know how God uses our prayers. But our job is not the availing of prayer. Our job is the fervency of prayer. Those caught in the terror don’t need me wringing my hands in despair; they desperately need believers around the world who will take God at His word and lift up fervent prayers on their behalf.
*The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected, Nik Ripken with Gregg Lewis, p. 151-57.