Bringing Light to the Darkness: Why Our Prayers Matter

A few weeks ago as the news of the unrest in Afghanistan began showing up on my newsfeed, I wanted so badly to bury my head in the sand. On top of Covid, on top of immigration, on top of California’s governor recall, on top of a friend in the hospital with Covid, on top of everything. I ignored it. I didn’t want to hear it. 

As I sat by the pool with a friend while our kids splashed and played nearby, I admitted to her that I hadn’t watched the news in probably four years. I admitted to her that it’s too much; the world is dark, and if I ignore it, my life can remain light. She challenged me. We can’t just ignore it. 

She gently pointed me toward some worthy news sources, and we moved on with our conversation, but her words stuck with me. We can’t just ignore it. The more I thought about it I realized how selfish it was to hold the darkness at bay, and keep it out of my life to preserve my own light. God calls us to do the exact opposite. In my yearning to preserve my own status quo, I was withholding my light, my prayers, my activism, my heart from the people who needed it most. 

I had so many excuses. What was I gonna do anyway? How could my prayers make a difference? How could my measly donations to reputable nonprofits be a drop in the bucket to the immense darkness? And how could my voice shouting into the abyss that is social media, ever make a difference to a hurting mother and her children in Afghanistan, thousands of miles away?

And selfishly, I was already carrying pain. As a two on the Enneagram, I don’t do well with disconnecting my emotions and pain from others’ pain. I don’t know how to carry someones pain without making it my own. How then could I read about mothers in fear for their children’s lives, young adult men clinging to landing gears while planes flew out of airports, infants being passed over barbed wire by mothers whose only wish was safety? How could these stories take up space in my heart without hurting me in the process?

And then like a flood, I was reminded of all the times God called his people to be a light in the darkness, to not hide our lights under a basket, to be the actual light of the world. And here I was hoarding my light. I was hiding it so I could keep it for myself, so I wouldn’t run out.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

“‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

The reality is we can’t run out of light; it is made to “give light to all in the house.” We can’t run out of the hope of Jesus, the gospel that saves. We are always being filled up if we know where to go. His strength, His love, His courage, His wisdom, His hope is not ever going to leave us or forsake us. 

And so I’m taking baby steps. I’m dipping my toe into the news of the world, and I’m starting with prayer. If I can do nothing else, I can pray. And as I do so, I remember the deep power of prayer. As I fold my hands and close my eyes, I acknowledge that the Lord is over all. That the Lord can conquer these earthly woes. That the Lord is sovereign and knows the pain and hurt and deep darkness of this world, and only He can overcome it. My prayers acknowledge that. My prayers say to Him “Lord Jesus come.” 

He can make light of the deep darkness if we can bring it to Him in our prayers. When I pray I am entering into a world where He is the one who can make good of what we see as evil. And as I enter into this world, I bring light into the darkness. I bring hope into situations where there is none. I bring life to death, and salt where there is no flavor. And all it takes is a surrender: a surrender to His plans.

But it also takes knowledge of this darkness to bring light into it. Where there is no darkness, I won’t see or need the light. So if you’re avoiding the darkness, remember He is our light. He alone can bring light into darkness. And He wants us all up in that darkness sharing our light, and shining His hope into situations where there isn’t any.

And after we lift up the darkness to be covered in His light, we can be lead to actions, and prayers, and solutions, in His name. In His plans, asking His kingdom come, this surrender leads to hope, and resolution by His mighty name, not our own.

So bring your “wordless sighs,” and “aching groans” to the feet of Jesus, and let Him bathe them in His marvelous light. 

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