Image: Families in Phongsaly live in a daily reality of limited access – whether to clean water, education, livelihoods or health services – but as they encounter the skills, resources and support to forge new paths, it’s creating life-giving opportunities. Tearfund’s local partner, World Renew Laos, who has worked with communities in Phongsaly for the past 14 years, has been instrumental in helping to clear the way for such opportunities.
Pray Like This is a seven-week Lenten series of art, prayer, and spiritual practices inspired by the Lord’s Prayer to help you reflect, pray and connect in the lead-up to Easter. Join Tearfund Update so you never miss out on our Lent series or other great content; inspiring partner stories, prayers, events and resources.
The Warehouse, South Africa
Thandi Gamedze works for an NGO in Cape Town called The Warehouse, which journeys with churches in their practical and theological responses to injustice within their contexts. She is deeply committed to the work of critique and reimagining (as both action and reflection) towards a world that is just, nurturing and kind and believes that the arts – and for her personally, poetry in particular – are integral to this work.
Until you know what heaven looks like, you can't actually make it happen on earth.
Sometimes that's an issue with some of the things that we try and fight for here as well. We might know what unjust structure needs to be toppled, but we don't necessarily have a vision that we're going towards or fighting for. Having a vision of what heaven looks like is really key in this work towards justice.
One of the really beautiful pictures for me is in Isaiah 65, which is, I think, my favourite scripture, talking about the new heavens and the new earth. It hits me so hard whenever I read it, because the chasm between the picture that it paints, and what I see in my context is so, so wide. Thinking about ‘people will build houses and live in them’ – in a context where you have really wealthy neighbourhoods, where people are transported from what are essentially like labour reservations to come and build these places that they would never get to live in, and maybe go home to an informal settlement. Thinking about ‘people will plant vineyards and eat of the fruit’ – in a context where there's been so much historical injustice with farming and farm workers are exploited and treated terribly. Thinking about ‘children not being born to destruction’ – in a context where people are violently killed or where life can involve constant trauma and facing different kinds of violence. That's one picture in Scripture, this idea of what this kingdom looks like, what heaven looks like and what we need to be working for on Earth: people getting to eat the fruits of their labours and work being life giving and people flourishing.
The spiritual forces of injustice are so prevalent and present, and we need to have a greater understanding of those forces and how to come against them. Whether it's through our actions or through our prayers.
Throughout Scripture we get so many glimpses of what God is for and what God is against. God is continually working against these kinds of hierarchical relationships where people on top are exploiting the people on the bottom and making profit out of them. The Jubilee laws are a really interesting study in what God instructs people to do, which completely disrupts the destructive hierarchies that people can create. It’s like a constant kind of check or reset for things to get back to where people are flourishing, and relationships between people are flourishing, and relationships between people and and creation are flourishing.
Often we don't necessarily know how to engage prayer so well when it comes to justice. In the church, so much of the time prayer has been done instead of justice and instead of living differently, and so it almost feels like a cop-out sometimes. But it's so key to be able to live in the mystery and tension of prayer and justice together. The spiritual forces of injustice are so prevalent and present, and we need to have a greater understanding of those forces and how to come against them. Whether it's through our actions or through our prayers.
What I love about the line ‘on earth as it is in heaven’, it doesn't allow us to just spiritualise away these material things that we are called to do... God's dream for the world and God's vision for the world is that these things take place in the here and now.
Prayer aligns us with God's heart. Along with reading the Word and being engaged, praying with people is an important part of aligning with God’s heart for justice. The thing I love about the Lord's Prayer, is that it doesn't allow it to just be a prayer. Because in every line, there's quite heavy implications, or invitations is maybe a better way of putting it. The Lord's Prayer can kind of become a rote prayer for many of us. I mean, I grew up praying it every week in school assembly, so it just becomes this thing that you know by heart and you actually don't really think too much about it. Breaking it down and really engaging with it in this way is important to do when it has become so normalised. There's so much in there. It allows us to come face to face with what God's heart is and what following Jesus actually looks like as we're living on the earth today. We’re forced to come out of that prayer with clear mandates that we need to be concerned with as Jesus followers.
What I love about the line ‘on earth as it is in heaven’, it doesn't allow us to just spiritualise away these material things that we are called to do, as Jesus followers here on Earth. It's saying, No, we're not just waiting until things are made right in heaven. God's dream for the world and God's vision for the world is that these things take place in the here and now. That needs to look like bread for those that are hungry, that needs to look like the year of Jubilee and all that means about releasing people from debt and setting prisoners free. All of these things have very radical impacts and implications if they are taken seriously. It pushes against the idea that we can just spiritualise things and wait until the next life before we need to think about what these things mean for us practically.
Praise God for Tearfund’s partners who bring an expression of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and reflect the Isaiah 65 vision of flourishing.
In Laos, limited access to health care and birthing facilities can mean that pregnancy and childbirth are fraught with fear and risk. Through the provision of birthing kits, emergency nutrition, pregnancy education and postnatal care, and by training local health workers to support pregnant women and new mums, our partner World Renew Laos is equipping parents to overcome the obstacles that threaten their babies’ health and survival.
In the remote province of Papua, Indonesia, many young children are undernourished and suffer from preventable diseases. Tearfund’s local partner Yasera facilitates a health and nutrition program which is seeing improved health among children. By working closely with local communities in the area, Yasera has grown relationships with families, equipping them with nutrition and hygiene education to keep their children strong. Along with monthly weighing and immunisation sessions for under 5s, these initiatives are resulting in huge health improvements across the communities.
Local Solomon Islands partner Ola Fou was recently able to gather for a staff retreat and organisational development workshop, facilitated by Tearfund. Praise God for this valuable time of reflection, prayer, growth and envisioning. Pray for continued direction and fruitfulness as Ola Fou serves the communities around them, particularly through youth development.
Intercession is the act of intervening on behalf of another. For many Christians, this is a big focus of prayer: bringing other people (those we know, and those we don’t), and circumstances (both close to us and far away) before God. As we head towards Easter, we particularly remember the example of Jesus, who went to the cross on our behalf, and lives to intercede for us before the Father (Romans 8:34). We also know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, putting words to the prayers that we don’t know how to pray ourselves (Romans 8:26).
Look back on this week’s prayer points, and spend some time on your own or with a group in intercession for these areas. Pete Greig, founder of the 24-7 Prayer movement and Tearfund UK Ambassador, outlines four helpful steps when interceding in prayer:
24-7 Prayer has a practical and engaging Prayer Course that you can access online, to help you explore intercession and other forms of prayer. For more ideas on praying into large-scale crises, read How to pray for the global hunger crisis.
Help hope break out in the midst of hunger
Support our partners as they work to restore health, livelihoods and hope in communities hardest hit by hunger and food insecurity.