Frequently I will get responses that say something like “Instead of praying, why don’t you do something about it?”
My response to this is always two-fold. First, when I am praying I am doing something. I am lifting up my concern to God. God already knows about it, but I add my voice to those of others asking that God’s rule of love and justice will be fully realized. God has promised to hear our prayers (Matthew 21:22).
Second, in the process of praying I am making a commitment. Praying for something reminds me to offer up not just my words and heart-felt intent but also my actions. When I pray for an end to modern slavery and human trafficking, or Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, or gender- based violence, it reminds me to do what I can to make the world safe for all people.
It makes me look at the policies and statements of our church. It makes me think about actions our church can take with partners. It makes me think about how I can raise this issue with governments and community leaders. Prayer can serve as a giant post-it note reminding me of the actions that I need to take.
I give thanks for the ways we can work together to put actions behind our prayers. I give thanks for Rev. Karen Stepko our representative on the Canadian Council of Churches Sexual Exploitation in Canada Working Group. I give thanks for Bishop Larry Kochendorfer, our ELCIC representative on The Lutheran World Federation council, another partner who works in the area of ending human trafficking and gender-based violence. I give thanks for the World Council of Churches who call us to join in the #ThursdaysinBlack campaign, praying and advocating for a world without gender based violence. I give thanks for Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, for the ways that he and the Council of General Synod are working to take up the issue of human trafficking.
How might you be encouraged to pray without ceasing? Regardless of whether you choose to post your prayers to social media, I pray that the members of the ELCIC will join me in prayer and action.
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada