Often, when people stare at a crisis, our thoughts seem more quickly inclined to Let’s Do, instead of Let’s Pray.
“Okay. The prayer thing, but we need to dosomething.”
We are so eager to do something (and just for the record, I absolutely believe that we should do something). But in our eagerness to act, prayer is often put on the back burner or shoved to the side, while it actually needs to be our very foundation and the fire that is fueling our every move.
We cannot underestimate the importance of prayer’s centrality.
A little over 10 years ago, I had some stirrings arise in my heart for orphaned children. So I acted on this interest and interned with an adoption agency one summer between college semesters. With a small group of other Americans, I traveled to Russia and spent about a month ministering to the nation’s fatherless, living in their orphanages with them. I was with the children hours each day—eating with them, talking with them, playing games with them.
After the time spent in Russia, I had the urge to relocate somewhere overseas and work among the orphaned. These children had impacted my heart in a life-defining way. I could not imagine going back to “life as usual.”
But. But sometimes God has a different course than the one we had in mind for ourselves.
The fourth summer I went to Russia, I felt from the Lord that it was the last time. I didn’t know if that meant the last time for a while or the last time forever, but I knew when I said goodbye to the children that summer, these who I had come to know and love so much, that I wouldn’t be seeing them again, at least in this age. I throbbed inside, wanting to understand the Lord’s leadership, but not understanding.
I came back to Kansas City, with the desire to minister to the fatherless so strong in my heart. But there was no orphan ministry around, at least that I knew of. My heart wrestled, having no outlet for the burden that was burning inside of me.
But I remember a defining moment with the Lord that ultimately altered the trajectory of my life and ministry.
I longed to be among the orphaned—and God said to me, so clearly, “Kinsey, let it go, and let Me hold that dream.”
I didn’t know what to do with that. How could I let it go?
So, still aching within, I threw Him my rebuttal. “But Lord, what about the orphans?” His response didn’t seem to answer my question at the time.
“I want you to pray,” my heart heard Him whisper.
And well, having no other known outlets to serve these children, I began to pray. Like I never had before. Some days if felt rote and unexciting, and on other days God brought me to holy tears wept over their lives. I filled journals with prayers for these kids.
And as I prayed consistently, God began giving me a very precious gift.
He started releasing to me His burden and His heart for the fatherless.
It was bigger than what I had felt before. Much bigger.
Though I’d been ready to move across the ocean and leave all the familiars of life—what I felt now was bigger still.
The burden began to grow in my heart to such an extent that I was tempted to say at times, “Lord, I can’t take anymore.”
But rather than making this my prayer, someone wisely counseled me to instead pray, “Lord expand my heart’s capacity to hold all that You want to give me.”
The Lord called me away to pray, and something beautiful happened. When I really began to enter into that place of prayer, the Father of the fatherless drew me into His heart and began to give me a deeper taste of what He feels for a fatherless generation of children. It was something greater than I could have imagined, something beyond what I could have ever produced in myself—something that could only be found in prayer.
A gift found within a gift.
There in the gift of simple intimacy with my Father, I met Him heart to heart, felt Him weep and let His tears overflow into me, becoming mine. And His love for me, for them, overwhelmed me.
I see now what I didn’t see those years ago. My vision will ever remain too small and my ability to bring true justice hindered unless the effort to minister to the fatherless is born out of an intimate prayer partnership with Jesus.
And so we pray, while also asking for abundant grace to put action to our prayers.
God wants to do something beyond our own ability. He wants to impart to us the depths of His own heart, to find those who will be a resting place for His emotions, and to release through us a movement of justice fueled by the power of His own Spirit.
Who cares about these children more than any of us do? Who is the only One who has the power to restore a broken story and heal a shattered heart? Who is He who has taken the highest seat in all of creation, who is enthroned in the heavens, and who has called Himself a Father to the fatherless?
We want to intimately connect with the heart of our God, our Father, our Friend over these children. We actually want to talk to Him, to closely engage His heart.
So for these 40 weeks, we’re leaning in. We’re asking Him to bring us into His precious burden for the orphaned. We asking Him to share dreams in His heart that we have yet to conceive.
What does He want to do? In our nation? In this fatherless generation? In our churches? In our families? In our hearts?
What are the desires of God’s heart?
Come up close. Listen. Pray. And dream big with God.
Kinsey Thurlowis a minister at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. She is an advocate for the fatherless and her husband, Jon, is a worship leader and minister at IHOPKC.
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