It wasn’t even bedtime when the young mom interrupted her kids’ playtime with an invitation to pray for their daddy. An itinerant pastor to boarding school campuses in West Africa, way back in the sixties, their daddy was well on his way driving over gravel roads that afternoon. Back at home mommy felt the ‘need’ to pray heavy on her heart. Remember, this was before cell phones and texting. Once the young missionary pastor was out of the driveway, he was out of range of any human contact with his family.
The children sensed the urgency, and the little group prayed earnestly for their absent parent until the urgency lifted, and the youngest was asleep on her mommy’s lap. Weeks later, with daddy safely home, the subject of the unplanned prayer time came up. The young pastor asked for the date. Mommy didn’t even need to consult her journal, and when she told him he asked for a ‘family meeting.’ Here is what he shared :
“You know, when God interrupted your afternoon playtime, I was driving that long, lonely stretch before reaching the campus. No other vehicle was in front or behind; no village in sight. Suddenly the car swerved and before I knew it, slid into a roadside ditch. I checked the tires; they were fine. I waited for someone to come along, a little worried that they might not be the friendly type, or even strong enough to help.
“Then, off in the distance, down the road I had so recently traveled, a big dust cloud showed me that a lorry was coming along – fast. I waved and the driver stopped. The cargo in back was covered with a tarp and on top of that sat six really big guys. It made nine in all with the three in the cab. Nine men to my one! They saw my predicament, climbed out of the truck and came at me. The driver greeted me politely and then gave some orders. Motioning me to one side, they surrounded the station wagon and, on cue, picked it up and put it back on the road.
“My relief probably showed. I thanked them as best as I could. Offered them some money and some gospel portions. They refused to take the money, but gladly accepted the tracts. I got some dusty hugs from a few of the men before they got back in (and on) the truck and drove off. I reached campus just as the sun was setting. But this is the important part: my roadside pickup was at the time God interrupted your playtime to join Mommy to pray for me.”
It both challenges and blesses me to think about how God invites me to join Him in His Kingdom’s business. In the simplest terms, intercession can be defined as an obedient act, a love response to our Heavenly Father Who is doing His Kingdom’s work. There’s an element of mystery here. We don’t know how many times our requests for others’ needs move His resources in to bless the ones for whom we prayed. It’s part of seeing through ‘the glass, darkly.’
Intercessory prayer may well bless us as much as or more than it does the ones for whom we pray. I think it also delights the heart of our Father God. He welcomes us into a relationship of friendship. Ps. 25:14 NLT
And I firmly believe that God is prepared to interrupt us more times than we know. It often takes heart preparation to hear His invitation. Please consider sharing this with your kids and get ready to have your summer agendas ‘interrupted’ with heavenly invites. Here are a few info bytes to start out with:
- Faithful Muslims are in the middle of observing RAMADAN this summer. This is a 30 day period of fasting during daylight and observing special prayer times. The Muslim world is young, and while children are not expected to fast, they are taught the importance of this observance. Many Christians around the world also fast and pray for Muslims, asking God to interrupt their everyday life with revelations of His presence. Reports are many that this does happen.
- Nepal has dropped out of the media’s attention, but the aftermath of April’s horrendous earthquakes continues. Family life has been disrupted throughout the country. Many thousands of children have been orphaned.
- Until recently, the number of displaced people on the planet has been recorded in the thousands. The most recent UNICEF stats indicate that 60 million displaced people now struggle to survive. Half of them are children!
Times of intercession can be informal and spontaneous. Paying attention when God interrupts our lives brings delight. It can be one way a family experiences the presence of Jesus. I hope you agree.
God, interrupt whatever we are doing so we can join You in what you are doing. Francis Chan