It was back in 2013, late in the year, that I was in Mozambique for a few weeks time. That was my fourth ministry trip, having been to Uganda three-times the previous years. I landed after a long travel upon which we began to travel even more. Mozambique is a big country and our eight-hours north by train barely traversed it’s length.
Before this trip the Lord had been telling me, 1. Teach the people to pray for themselves and 2. Do not be the one to pray for everyone.
The context of these instructions is that when a westerner comes to Africa the thinking and the habit is that, that one is the ‘special’ one endowed with particular gifts from God; “This is the one to pray for us and to take away all our troubles”.
Now, I’ve been an inner healing prayer minister since the early 2000’s. My own experience and habits of prayer extend way back to my childhood. And the legacy of prayer goes back on both sides of my family for generations.
In other words, I am happy to pray for people. But, on my previous three-times to Africa, I had seen the ridiculous and utterly unsustainable thing of one person being THE ONE to pray for people. It’s not what prayer is supposed to be. Prayer is not a proprietary product to be doled out at special times; prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate connection to the Lord that is accessible, FOR everyone.
Within a few days of arriving we travelled to a small town, a uniquely fashioned village, in northern Mozambique on the shores of the Zambezi river. Per usual, the body of Christ gathered the evening of our arrival and I preached the message that night. Afterwards, it was then time to pray for the people.
But, in honouring of the Lord’s instructions, and intent on relieving myself of the burden to pray all-the-time-for-everyone, I set about trying to teach the people to pray for each other. It was a dismal failure. Even with the very enthusiastic assistance of my translator in teaching this, nobody ended up praying or being prayed for that evening. The people simply stood at the front with heads hanging waiting for a special touch from the special visitor. It was very sad.
Back at the house and after returning from church I realized that I should explain to the pastor why I did not pray for his people; this could be seen as an insult, something wrong, an offence of sorts. So, I shared with him the convictions of the Lord upon me in the weeks prior to being there in Mozambique, namely, that I was to teach the people how to pray.
His immediate response was, “The people can pray?!”
Somehow, in some way, the church in Mozambique had been taught (by missionaries I learned, no less) that only pastors can pray. Prayer had been kept from the people. I was aghast. Struck. Deeply saddened. I could barely perceive a place where pastors didn’t know that people can pray, and that the people certainly didn’t have any clue that they too, could pray.
The Lord profoundly touched me with the need to reconnect people to their God via prayer, “Don’t forget about Prayer, Cyndy.” It is a lot of what I have been doing since.
Prayer is a key movement within and through the work of Capturing Courage. And that seems such an understatement! How might we express this strongly enough, that every single person on this earth has been given a birthright of prayer, of conversation, of intimacy with the God who made heaven and earth, for themselves.
The remainder of my time in Mozambique I modelled very simple prayers. Each time I was supposed to pray I said things like, “God be with us today. We love you. Amen” or “God, we thank you for the time together. Amen”, and “God, we need you. Amen.”
Prayer is best when it is simple.
“Cyndy, teach the people to pray for themselves.” Yes Lord, Yes.
A House of Prayer is landing us at this core calling. Personally, I am being made smaller in what I am about. Honed, fine-tuned, simplified, brought down to the thing I am to be doing. Prayer.
What a great thing to be caught, in this way, by the living Lord. The weavings of the Lord, of prayer through all the years, are coming together. We look to God in all this. Faces like flint. Neither to the left or to the right. Trusting. Abiding. Nimble and obedient.
We need you God. You, are our life.
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” Psalm 141:2