My mentor, Nathan Inyom, was born at the side of a dusty, dirt road in an obscure village in Nigeria. His Mom felt the labor pains and just lay down in the grass close by and brought him into the world.
Today he is an Anglican Bishop. He heads an effort to send Nigerians to ethnic groups where there is little if any Christian witness. I am sure his Christian mother prayed that day. Little did she know, though, what God had in store for her newborn son.
Perhaps Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, also prayed during her delivery of the new prince on Monday. I don’t know, but I do know that prayer does help birth new spiritual life in our own communities and in places where there are few if any Christians.
We can learn a few things from the prayers of mothers giving birth. Their prayers are often intense, physical, and offered in community.
- Intensity: There can be an intensity to prayer in a delivery room (or roadside) that’s scary because so much is at stake. Consider Paul’s words in Colossians 4:19 “…My dear children, for whom I am again in labor pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”
- Physicality: It’s also incredibly physical. Just as physical birth is painful and all-consuming, so spiritual birth requires some physicality. Remember Hannah wept bitterly and moved her lips, yet no sound was heard in her prayer (1 Samuel 1:13)? Recall the sweat from Jesus’ prayer (Luke 22:44)?
- Community: Yes, birth is a private affair, and rightly so, as no one else can have physically have your baby for you. But it’s also a community event. There’s a new kid on the block. There’s a new Mom on the block (perhaps). The community’s been enlarged. And, in most cases, the community was engaged before the birth.
Prayer for a royal baby, an African newborn on a roadside, and for new churches— all of these types of prayers are surely organic and natural. It is not an artificially hyped-up emotional experience. It is real. Although this type of praying may not happen every day, there is a place for it.
How is your prayer life? Are your prayers tepid, cost-free and vague? What needs to change in how you pray for the birth of new churches in places like Somalia and Dagestan? How can your community be in the game in prayer for the spiritual sterile parts of the world? Stay tuned for more this topic next week.