Recently, we received this remarkable story from South East Asia - it encapsulates exactly what 24-7 Prayer is all about, and is a huge encouragement to pray at all times, for all things:
“And then I prayed. A half-hearted, desperate and faithless prayer…”
We stumbled into our church a little rushed, toddlers and bags hanging off us, as we hurried to escape the heavy pre-monsoon heat for the cool inside.
Scattered among the chairs and gathering people were the remnants of the prayer room we'd been running over the past few days. A large bamboo cross hanging from the pillar in the middle of the room, prayer requests strung out across one wall of the chapel. Prompts and suggestions on how to pray translated into different languages and stuck to various walls.
We joined the ragtag collection of locals and expats slowly packing into the main room, the heat building as the bodies pressed in. At the front the pastor stood, his lanky Nordic frame dwarfing everyone in the room as he announced that today we would be baptising people.
And that's when I saw Su, twin babies perched on her hips, moving forward to give her testimony before she was baptised.
I'd met her six months ago at her home. Someone from a local charity with links to the church had heard that a young mum hadn't got enough breast milk for her newborn babies. So some of us cobbled together money to buy enough milk formula, clean water and bottles, to make sure the newborn twins had food to survive while she hopefully increased her milk supply to feed them both.
Su and her family are people on the margins of their society, living on marginal land, working marginal jobs to scrape together just enough to survive. She and her husband live in a hut the same size as my bathroom with their six children. It's suspended over the edge of a swamp on a shaky bamboo frame, lifted just high enough to stay above water level when the monsoon rain comes.
As I'd clambered into their home hunched over, worried that my bulk might prove too much and collapse the whole thing, I'd seen the newborn twins, awake but listless in the heat. Days old, dehydrated, desperate and dying.
Someone from the charity explained that we'd help and also asked if we could pray.
And then I prayed. A half-hearted, desperate and faithless prayer. The prayer of someone surrounded by overwhelming poverty, scared that God wouldn't answer and what the consequences of that might be for two starving babies.
I was willing God into action, quietly, desperately beseeching, because there's not a lot else you can do in that situation.
And now here she stood, with the fattest two babies you could imagine gurgling at her hip, standing on stage professing her belief in Jesus.
And I stood at the back quietly thanking God and wondering how such small faithless prayers and the actions of a few people could have been such a powerful thing.
Prayer, Mission and Justice is 24-7’s DNA. In this one woman - and her family at the margins - it had all come together.
And now, Su is a wonder. She's now effectively a breastfeeding counsellor and activist in her community, making sure other mums get help and support with their newborns, saving lives, transforming people, offering hope.
And we keep praying, but taking action too. Being the hands and feet as well as a voice calling out our desperate, faithless prayers to our good and gracious God.
Inspired to dig deep in prayer? Find new ideas to try on our prayer pages.