In the months before we left Canada again, we posted four names up on our wall at home. These names belonged to the four most powerful policy-makers in the province that we would soon be headed into. Every time we looked up at these four names, we would pray for these particular men. We would pray for their health, for understanding, for guidance. Most of all, we would pray that these four men would have an encounter with God that would change their lives and give them wisdom and courage to govern under the leading hand of the Holy Spirit. That mercy and justice would spread throughout the land under their leadership. That integrity and compassion would be valued above power and profit.
Prayer is not a trivial matter. It is not an exercise in futility that simply gives us a sense of comfort in the midst of circumstances that we cannot change. Prayer shifts atmosphere. Prayer cuts through the very fabric of what seems like reality and causes the power of Heaven to invade. Prayer writes history and changes nations. Prayer is a key, one that opens doors that no one can shut, and locks doors that no one can open.
In honour of the coming New Year celebration, I was invited out to a formal dinner by the government bureau that handles foreign experts here. I found myself led in the grand ballroom of the most luxurious hotel in the capital city. In the center of the opulent room was the large main table with white cards displaying the names of the people to be seated. In addition to the hosts, the consular-generals for five neighbouring countries were also in attendance. As I was led to the table off to the right reserved for foreign experts, I glanced at the card sitting in front of the head seat at the main table. On it was one of the four names.
As I sat and enjoyed the vast array of local delicacies, I watched what was happening at the head table. It was clear that deals were being forged as the participants engaged in the social protocols that define this region. I chatted with the others at my table and enjoyed my meal while praying softly under my breath. Here was one of these influential men, within range of line-of-sight prayer and I knew that the moment had been divinely orchestrated.
Near the end of the meal, this man came to our table to propose a toast. According to custom, he extended an official welcome and raised his glass. As we wished each other health and prosperity in the coming year, I followed protocol and dropped my glass of wine lower than his as we clinked glasses before draining them and displaying our empty glasses to one another. He then moved on to another table, and I sat thinking about the significance of the event.
For as long as the Lord leads, I will continue to drop lower and undergird this man in prayer. This country and region is at a critical juncture in its history. This year, 140 of the top 200 positions in government will shift to new people. Included in those, 7 of the 9 absolute highest positions will also change. Now is the time for prayer that righteousness would cover the land as the waters cover the sea. As important as the implications for this country and the rest of the world are, the state of this particular man`s soul is also precious to the Lord. I hope and pray that we will one day again stand together, toasting another new era, drinking a much more precious wine, smiling and showing each other that we left nothing behind.