Every year it’s the same, it seems.
The second weekend of November has been designated by the World Evangelical Alliance as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. It is a day in which we are supposed to focus on prayer for those who are persecuted for their faith. I am proud of what we do here in Canada. The partners in IDOP Canada have gone so far as to covenant together not to use this day for promoting fundraising projects but to retain the focus on prayer. After all, we reason , we have the rest of the year to do that, however we so choose to do so. But for one Sunday, let’s just pray!
As I see how other organizations around the world are promoting IDOP as the day draws closer, I confess to a degree of a sadness and disappointment. Many of the “kits” that I have seen promoted seem more geared towards fundraising or awareness raising than to prayer. It’s as if we simply cannot resist using a day of prayer for commercial or developmental reasons, in the same way that the retailers cannot stop using Christmas for their own advantage.
I understand that some may use prayer as a excuse to do nothing (as one mission leader once said to me) but I counter that such folks probably aren’t really praying then. Prayer that touches and reflects the heart of God is prayer that reaches out to the needy. But I would like to see the conviction to help begin when someone is on their knees in prayer and not because they have been stimulated to write a cheque by a finely tuned “prayer kit” designed primarily to solicit donations.
For one Sunday, why can’t we just pray and trust God for the results? Or is the potential of such a development opportunity just too great to turn down? It was for one of our former IDOP Canada partners a few years ago. Faced with the choice of turning off the fundraising machinery for such an event, they decided to withdraw from IDOP Canada. That way they could continue to fund-raise on IDOP Sunday. Prayer had just too high of a price, I guess.