Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pray for Babylon

This week, it's money.  But at any point in my life, it could have been any number of things we were talking about.  Things that looked like they ought to have a stronger hold on me (and often did) but never should have.  Things I had to choose not to live by.

And I hope that from yesterday's post, maybe you're thinking about money.  But maybe more, you're thinking about whatever it is that you live by that you'd rather not.  That thing that has control of you that's bogging you down and keeping you up at night and holding you back.

There is a way to freedom from anything and no matter the bondage, the way is the same: prayer.

Before you get all down on the idea and start protesting that you've tried prayer and it doesn't free your heart, allow me to expound a bit.  Because when I say "prayer," I'm not talking about the prayers you've likely prayed.  When we're stuck in...whatever it is we're stuck in...our instinct is to pray for our freedom.  To pray for release.  Lord, we pray, set my heart free from this.  Come and meet me here, Father, and set me free.  Abba, I don't want to do this any more!  Unburden me, Lord!

These are not inherently bad prayers, but neither are they as powerfully freeing as we dare to hope they would be.  What these prayers do, at best, is unleash the burden from our hearts and set it on the world, where it will come back to haunt us again and again as it searches for its stronghold, its place here amongst...this.  The real key to peace, the key to freedom, the key to release?

Pray for Babylon.

It was maybe three or four years ago when I really read this passage in Jeremiah for the first time - and heard it.  "And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon.  Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you."  (Jeremiah 29:7)

Set the stage.  God's people are being led away into exile, captives of a contrary country (Babylon).  They don't want to be there.  They want to go home.  To the Promised Land.  To their own cities.  But here they are, far from home, living not as free men and women but as prisoners of war.  Plunder.  Captives.  And God tells them that the answer to that gnawing in their hearts is not is grace.


Pray for Babylon.  Pray for its identity crisis.  For its power struggle.  For its security and stability.  Like it or not, you're there.  You're part of its mess now, and the only way for both of you to have any peace is to give Babylon peace first, so that this place doesn't have to fight any more.  So that it's not trying to prove anything.  So that it understands that it has what it wants, what it seeks, what it thrives on.  Pray for Babylon to be the fullness of Babylon...not your enemy, but simply a place looking for exactly what you're looking for - peace and a way to be.  When it finds itself, when it finds 'peace' as we call it, you will find it not such a bad place to be for awhile because there will be no angst, no power struggle.  It will simply be.  And you will simply be, as well.

So it is with any place we find ourselves captive.  God doesn't tell us to pray for our peace; pray for the peace of that place where you are held captive.  Is it money that holds you?  Pray for the peace of money, that it would know its purpose and place in this world rather than demanding greater attention. Is it hurt that holds you?  Pray for the peace of hurt, that it would understand the questions it is asking and hear the answers so it can stop shouting over the life you want to live.  Is it anger that holds you?  Pray for the peace of anger.

There have been times in my life where Babylon has been a person, someone who has seemed to have control over me to the point where that bondage was just about tangible.  Is it someone else who holds you?  Pray for the peace of that person, that they would find the answers to their insecurities, woundedness, darkness.  You'll find that when they have peace, they ease up on you and you have peace (and a new love) as well.

Peace is resting in that sweet spot where something is as it was created to be.  Nothing more and nothing less.  You know that - because you have known your own peace when your heart is as it should be, when life seems well.  Then to pray for the peace of whatever holds you is to put it in its place, to help it find that sweet spot where it can be as it was created to be.  You pray for peace and you give whatever holds you an invitation to stop fighting, to stop shouting, to stop demanding....because when it has peace, it is as it was meant to be.  What could it fight for?  Why should it shout?  That place of peace is everything.  Peace is grace.

If you're looking for a way to say, "I don't live by _______," and you know full well that your heart is in that tug-of-war, take a note from Jeremiah and extend grace.

Pray for Babylon.

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