To think about...
'A goal without a plan is just a wish.' (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Family News
8 September 2019

I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.' (Martin Luther).

A Fifth Column is ‘any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation'. You can hardly accuse Christians of being Fifth Columnists, for we are urged to respect and pray for those in authority and St Paul claimed: "we give no offence in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed". Yet the Lord's Prayer itself is surely subversive. It commits us to pray that God's Kingdom will displace the kingdoms of the world.

Intercessions - for nations, communities and individuals - express the same desire, which is for God to disrupt the status quo. They are all prayers for change. You could call them interventions, for intercessors face God and ‘intervene' on behalf of others, combining a concern for their welfare with a desire for God's will to be fulfilled.

Interceding is one of the functions of the ‘royal priesthood' in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, the priesthood was limited to a small number of males of the Levitical tribe, who faced God on behalf of all the people of Israel. In the New Testament that concept of priesthood is subsumed by Christ Himself, enlarged to encompass the world and shared, collectively, with the whole body of Christians. When Christians are at prayer, we join with Jesus in representing the whole of humanity before God. He is the High Priest who is always interceding for us. So praying is a bit like stepping on to an escalator, which is already moving in the right direction.

If you belong to a small Christian community in your neighbourhood, your role is all the more vital. Like a gram of yeast in kilo of flour, your influence can be out of all proportion to your size. When everyone else is dismal or rudderless, you offer hope and purpose. You think, speak and act as a member of the congregation of Resurrection-believers.

When we meet as the Church, we act for ourselves and on behalf of our fellow-citizens, to offer through Jesus the worship which is their and our prime obligation. That may not seem like a revolutionary activity to you, but that's how it is regarded in hostile countries. Christians everywhere are engaged in spiritual warfare; for some it's a secular struggle, too.