Can something as simple as prayer, change anything? Too often we hear that it can, but our skeptical side wonders. Ponder then, this true story:
In April 2011, the staff of The International Justice Mission (or IJM), a Christian organization that works to rescue victims of slavery and sexual exploitation, heard some incredible news. In a village near Chennai, India, a local official identified as S. Kandaswamy, summoned the courage to rescue the captives in his own community. He organized a raid against a brick kiln where 143 families, a total of 522 people, had been kept as slaves. Police under his direction freed the laborers, commandeered a local high school to provide them with health care, and arrested the owner of the brick kiln. On that day hundreds of men, women, and children who had been robbed of their God-given dignity had been set free.
Where did S. Kandaswamy get the courage to initiate the raid? Just a few weeks before the raid and the bold actions of this local official, one thousand staff and friends of IJM gathered in a Washington, D.C., hotel ballroom for a weekend of prayer for IJM’s most urgent needs. They spent an agonizing, energizing night praying specifically for the end of bonded labor in the countries where it persists—countries like India. It seemed like an audacious and impossible thing to pray for—and it was, because to pray for the end of bonded labor is to pray for nothing less than an institutional revolution. And yet everyone in the room that night dared to ask God for that bonded labor might be eradicated. The Spirit came with extraordinary power, pouring out on that group of believers the willingness to ask something none of them could possibly bring about with their own resources or power.
Is it only a coincidence that four weeks later, this local official, who had not acted with courage before, took up the image-bearing power granted him by his position and dared to set free 522 slaves?
- (Adapted from Andy Crouch, Playing God (InterVarsity Press, 2013), pp. 208-209)
What could happen if we prayed? Not just a casual sentence or two, but prayed with an open heart, ask God to be our partner so the world could be changed for His glory. Maybe, just maybe, we could see history changed, lives saved, prisoners set free, countries turned around?
I want to invite you to join with me and let’s start praying prayers that change history.