Jono’s reflection this morning reminded me of a poem I came across a couple of years ago. It’s by Pete Greig, founding member of the 24-7 movement and Director of Prayer for Holy Trinity Brompton, in London.
Pete was one of the speakers at Spring Harvest one year. His morning reflections had a great impact on me and, amazingly, on my17 year old son! He wrote this in a 24-7 Prayer Room in Guildford:
I’m standing at night in this subterranean place of prayer, and perhaps it’s the coffee, or the music, or the Spirit, but the darkness doesn’t seem too strong. I’m praying for miracles in the city where I live – for healings, and salvations, and justice, and revival, and all those usual Kingdom kind of things. But tonight, as I do so, I find myself suddenly startled – like a boy blinking at fireworks – bewildered by how many miracles there already are.
It occurs to me that here in my city today, doctors dispensed healing – can you imagine anything more wonderful? Neighbours did favours. Dog-walkers in the park silently admired the shape of trees. Jokes were told in nursing homes. Thousands and thousands of people prayed, or wished, or merely unwittingly wanted what God wanted for a moment or two.
Chances are that somewhere today a young man and a young woman began to fall in love (although they don’t yet know it). A teenager picked up trash she had not dropped. A single mother decided, just for once, to buy herself a slice of chocolate cake and to celebrate the moment in long, slow, mouthfuls of happiness. A painter-decorator stepped back from a wall he’d just painted the colour of claret, and maybe at that moment the sunlight broke through the window, and he saw that it was a good piece of work. A man resisted the temptation to click the link he wouldn’t want his wife to see. Maybe he failed yesterday. Maybe he’ll click it tomorrow. But today he overcame. In the hospital perhaps a surgeon pinned a broken arm with immaculate skill. Delicious food was prepared and cooked and served in thousands of homes joyously. A pastor’s words, so carefully crafted, brought a little comfort to grieving relatives. People cried, but a check-out girl smiled at a lonely old lady. People died of course, but babies were also born. From time to time today, I was born too. We all were. A million, minor miracles.
We do not pray ex nihilo. We pray for more of whatever it is we see. Nothing comes from nothing – certainly not faith like this. Tonight I’m blessing the evidence of miracles; the pre-existing goodness, the presence of Christ in these streets, these surgeries, these schools, these art galleries, these pubs, these homes, these wards. Witnessing so many minor miracles I applaud the world. If all of this is happening all around me, what might not happen next?
And so I stand here now in this subterranean place of prayer and it seems self-evident that there is more light in the night than darkness in the day. There is goodness breaking through, everywhere I look. And I’m praying for miracles tonight with greater faith than frustration for once. I can see creation rising like the moon above the Fall. Ultimately, almost inevitably, benevolence wins the day quietly.
I’m climbing the stairs to my car now, stepping out of the prayer room into the darkness. I’m driving home past houses and perhaps it’s the music on the stereo, or the coffee, or the Spirit, but the city seems to me to have become the place of prayer.