For those who may not know, December 12th (12/12) is the “Global Day of Prayer for the Poor and Suffering”. For the second consecutive year, the International House of Prayer in Kansas City hosted this prayer event live from our prayer room. Having just returned from over two months in East Africa, this topic has been on my mind in an involuntarily vivid way. As I sat in the prayer room and prayed along with the intercessors, this specific prayer for the poor in America stuck out to me so much that I wanted to remember it… and share it with you:
“Lord, would you cause the Body of Christ in our nation, to be knit, as we are in our humanity, to the poorest of the poor. Lord, I ask that You would you cause those of us in the Body to have that solidarity to the poor, that ‘commonness’ that we are all but dust, formed and fashioned by Your hand, completely dependent upon You, with no life on our own and having no good thing apart from You, a dead branch apart from being connected to You, the Vine. Lord, I ask for that solidarity with the poor, that frailty and abject weakness, that we can bring nothing to the table. Lord, that in our own poverty of spirit and poverty of lives, You would cause a great welling up of compassion to flow out to the poor in our nation.”
Such a good reminder that in the complexity of poverty and destitution, we are not the answer. In fact, we are just as needy and destitute as anyone else. How so? Simply because every single thing we possess and the life that enables us to experience all these things has been completely and graciously given to us from the hand of the Lord. Though we may realize it or not, every eye is looking to Jesus to sustain their lives by His word and give them the food He has decided we need (Ps. 145:15-16, Heb. 1:3). Only from that place of utter dependance and hope in the Giver of life who provides us with all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17) will a God-centered, God-produced compassion well up from within our hearts towards those who are just like us.
Because of our indisposition to treat others the way we like to be treated, the Lord has given us a model of conduct in Himself. And what a model it is! The only One who actually possesses life and immortality has laid down that life for those who possess none. The only One who deserves total honor and exaltation has drawn near to live in obscurity and wash our feet. The only One who actually has the gift has given it. The power to impact the poor of the earth does not lie in our ability to stand over the poor and analyze their condition, it lies in standing with the poor and realizing our condition. The power to love our needy neighbor is found in the recognition that we are also the needy ones for whom Jesus has shared in our flesh to become our neighbor, crossing the greatest gap possible to care for our well-being. Now, through whatever He has given to us, we can be like Him toward those who are just like us. Let us join in prayer, “Lord, open our eyes to see reality the way it truly is, that we might live the way we should.”
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2:3-5)
“See that you also excel in this grace of giving… For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:7-9)