Below are some wise and timely words written in 1946 by Frank Laubach. I've been reading his words from over a half century ago and finding myself reinvigorated in the quiet, secretive ministry of intercession. Laubach led an international literacy effort to contribute to world wide reconstruction and an effort to steer humanity away from a repetition of the horrors of World War II. However, his enduring legacy was his vision that hundreds of millions of people would attune to the current of God’s love and compassion through prayer. He was undoubtedly ahead of his time; his work in part was a synthesis of quantum physics and a call to intentionally practicing the presence of God. Below are a few of his words from “Prayer - The Mightiest Force in the World” and its first section - Pray for World Leaders.
“Prayer is needed as it was never needed in all history, that leaders may become large enough soon enough. Those planning for a united world have been intensely patriotic national leaders, and their viewpoints are inevitably warped by their love of country. They love their own people passionately, and as a rule have prejudices against other peoples, and so instinctively grasp for national advantages.”
“The world at this moment is the resultant of the total thought forces which have struggled for supremacy. The list of clashing selfish efforts is very long and ugly. A shower of prayers, gentle as snow, must fall upon these leaders in every nation to save them from being jealous, suspicious, greedy, prejudiced, full of resentment and hatred, and from driving bargains with weaker peoples which will breed new wars.”
“If our ship earth is to survive - it is prayer that will quench hate, fear and panic when nothing else will do. Only prayer can win this battle against hate, this battler for ‘one world.’ Other weapons convert enemies into skeletons. This weapon must convert enemies into friends.”
“But we have never yet had permanent peace. That is our dilemma. We must now find and follow some straight and narrow path never before trodden. If we do not find it, we shall perish. The way of peace is an untrodden path, but it is not unknown. It is the way Jesus gave us. Jesus’ way would be peace itself if we followed it. But most don’t want to change as radically as that! Peace cannot be permanent until we put “the whole world first.” We are still in the heat of a crucial battle between the way of Jesus and the way of greed.”
“When ten million of us pray for our world leaders, think what that will do to us, as well as to them. It will make us larger, more interested in the great world issues, more likely to read carefully all the facts that will enable us to pray intelligently. Thousands of ideas will come to us of ways to help our world.”
“Prayer is powerful, but it is not the power of a sledge hammer that crushes with one blow. It is the power of sun rays and rain drops which bless, because there are so many of them. Many prayers may show no visible results, but at least some of them will hit their mark. When you fill a swamp with stones, a hundred loads may disappear under the water before a stone appears on the surface, but all of them are necessary.”
“Prayer is likely to be undervalued by all but wise people because it is so silent and so secret. We are often deceived into thinking that noise is more important than silence. War sounds far more important than the noiseless growing of a crop of wheat, yet the silent wheat feeds millions, while war destroys them. We are tempted to turn from prayer to something more noisy like speeches or guns, because our motives are mixed.”
“Secret prayer for others all during the day is an acid test of our unselfishness.”
And so, if you're like me and have all but given up on prayer, what would it be like to enlarge your imagination and become renewed in joining in the transmission of God's love for others in the simple, yet mighty act of praying for everyone who comes to mind today. Don't we all have countless people whose names float through our minds or simply cross our paths? Some are leaders, many are almost invisible, some we trust, others we deeply mistrust.
This is not a call to a half-hour spent in prayer, but short bursts. Prayers like:
"May Jim next door feel loved today" or
"May our governor know and grow in the wisdom and ways of Jesus." or
"May my child's teacher feel secure today"
Won't you join us in a recovery of prayers of peace and goodwill for all we meet and all who come to mind today?