Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Love Shared Through Prayer Brings Rest

Lifting The Burden Of Others, Makes Your Personal Burden Lighter

When I look back over those years in Siangcheng, China, there are two or three brief inner experiences that stand out vividly. Once I was jaded, dull, bored. Indeed, it was worse than boredom; it was fast becoming a depression from which I saw no way out. I felt hemmed in- there in the narrow compound with the ceaseless round of little meetings, of visits to women in small courtyards, of hours spent trying to teach some of them to read, and the lack of any mental or emotional stimulation.

There was a vacuum in my mind when I was weary, and there seemed no way to fill it. I was inwardly dry. I maintained my habits of Bible reading and prayer morning and evening, alone and also with , but I needed something more. I felt parched.

One day the barrenness of my own soul become intolerable. I knew I could not go on like this and, having half an hour to spare, I went to my bedroom, threw myself on my knees, and cried desperately, ‘Lord! Lord Jesus! You said, "If any man thirsts, let him come unto me and drink!" And I’ve come! I’m parched and I want to drink.’

I waited expectantly, but nothing happened, so I cried again, with the same lack of result. I knew that only as I remained deliberately and consciously in the Lord’s presence could I expect the answer I longed for, but to remain there silent, trying to concentrate on God, was beyond me. My mind would wander, I knew. I must find a way to occupy it, and decided to pray for other people. Perhaps that was what I ought to be doing, anyway. I had a list of names and addresses of friends at home, so I got it out and went down the list, praying one by one for them, for about half-an-hour. Then I rose from my knees, went out into the courtyard and got on with whatever it was I had to do. There was no time now to think of myself. Other matters claimed my attention; and it was not until two or three hours later that it dawned on me that I wasn’t feeling bored or depressed any more.

Nothing noticeable had happened, there had been no upsurge of joy, but the dryness was gone. I was just quietly contented, back to normal, satisfied to be in the place where God had put me, doing what I believed He wanted me to do. It was as though, silently and imperceptibly, the waters had risen and the stream was flowing again.

That experience marked a new phase in my life, and illuminated me with a sentence which I came across at about the same time in the book of Job. As usual, when I was reading the Bible in theAuthorised Version, I saw the words, ‘And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends…’(Job 42:10).

I wasn’t focusing on the tribulations of Job, or the resentment he might have felt towards the friends who had misjudged him. But I knew what it was to have a mind in captivity to an unsatisfied desire, to the boredom of monotony, to be discontent with my lot. And I knew I had been released from that captivity after I had spent time with the Lord, praying for my friends. From that time on, I knew what to do when I found dryness and depression beginning to enfold me. Praying for others always had a liberating effect on me.

--Phyllis Thompson

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