These are questions that many have asked me recently, as believers grapple with the tension of wanting to help during the crisis, but not knowing exactly how to go about it. When we pray without seeing immediate results, the enemy’s voice can often creep in and tell us it’s useless.
However, there is truth in God’s Word that declares intercession is not useless. On the contrary, it is the most useful tool we have in moments of crisis.
Jesse Stone, one of the great emerging theologians of our day, shared a timely and compelling message with the OneHope team on the value of lamenting. He used Romans 8 and Isaiah 42 to unpack our groaning and agonizing over situations that we feel helpless to resolve. The following thoughts are what his teaching revealed to me during this moment.
Intercession is an action we can take – and are called to take – to make a difference in Afghanistan. When we pray, the Holy Spirit is interceding on our behalf. Prayer is far beyond a therapeutic spiritual experience. Jesse pointed this out in Romans 8, a passage you’ve likely read before. He shared verse 26: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with us with groanings too deep for words.” When you intercede, as a joint heir with the Holy Spirit, you invite Him into the practice of intercession.
Intercession leads to intervention. The Holy Spirit begins to intervene on our behalf, often behind the scenes. Also, through intercession, we are compelled to intervene personally through Spirit-led crisis response. During prayer, you may feel led to donate to an organization or sponsor a refugee family. When the Holy Spirit calls us to act, we must move at His leading. We may not have any answers to why something catastrophic is happening but can always rest assured that the Holy Spirit never wastes his intervention.
Intervention leads to the development of institutions. The Holy Spirit by our mourning, groaning, praying, and crying out hears our prayers. In response, and in His time, He builds. Churches, hospitals, universities, and more will be built out of this crisis. Even more than human institutions, the ultimate institution of the Kingdom of God is being built. The New Heaven and Earth were inaugurated by Jesus and are in the process of development. True, not fully established until His return, but nonetheless we are called into active service now.
As Christians, we have hope that the Holy Spirit is on the move, and that He is building the Kingdom of God, even if we can’t see immediate results from our prayers. On days when the enemy tempts you to wonder, “Is prayer actually enough?”, I hope you respond with a resounding, confident, “Yes”. In 2 Corinthians 5 we read, “…in this tent we groan…so that what is mortal can be made life…guaranteeing what is to come”(NIV). Your groaning, pain, and empathy in prayer are not in vain. They have a guarantee in their bond of suffering with the Holy Spirit that activates a process of intervention and institutional activation to follow.
I’m incredibly thankful for Jesse’s insight and know it will be a blessing to you also. You can listen to his message here below: