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Prayer for the week

12 September 2014

Katy Holbird keeps it brief with Isaiah


WE HAVE a policy at home. Well, less a policy and more of an agreement - although perhaps it is neither of those: what we have is a game of spiritual oneupmanship. The game is called "I'll take the children tomorrow morning: it's your turn for a quiet time."

Sounds healthy? Absolutely. Until you add the line: "So, if you're still in bed at 7 a.m., while I'm staffing the CBeebies morning slot, then you can square that with your conscience. And with the Lord."

I have always wanted to engage with morning prayer: to wake up in the early hours and intercede for the day without falling, disciple-like, asleep while waiting for the Lord. Since discovering this prayer, I may be one step nearer: this is a prayer that wakes me up.

First, it is short. Here are five syllables that do not require the workings of an intellectual colossus. In fact - do try this - if the words are moved into any intelligible sentence, then, even if the exact order eludes you, the gist is difficult to lose.

The brevity of Isaiah's words is, however, not the reason that this prayer functions like a liturgical alarm clock. The power, as ever, is in the width, the height, and the depth to which these words go. Despite appearances, this is not an easy prayer to pray.

"Here I am, send me." With these words, we voice our expectancy of an active God. Ours is a Father who is dynamic in the world, and who dares us to believe that we are of use to him. As we pray, we commit to a readiness to go.

"Here I am, send me." In offering to go, we must recognise the courage that it takes to pray this prayer. These words are not an agreement to include God in our plans for the day. Rather, they are a recognition that we have no plans unless they are made through God. With this prayer, we ask God to send us into the unknown: perhaps unknown elements of a seemingly ordinary day, or sometimes - just sometimes - something very different.

"Here I am, send me." Praying with expectancy and courage, we must also recognise that this prayer is one of submission. Through it, we lay ourselves down before the God of the universe.

I heard Bobbie Cheema QC interviewed recently at an Alpha Leadership Conference. She is Senior Treasury Counsel, working on high-level cases of homicide and terrorism. Whenever possible, her day begins in court, praying this prayer: submitting herself, her skills, and her discernment to God.

As we pray these five words, our day becomes the Lord's. What would it be like if, each day, we stood in the place where we "do life", and asked that God would send us in with his blessing? What if our desire for the day were to be commissioned again for God's work?

We all know what it says in Matthew 7.7 about people who ask: it would be transformational.

Katy Holbird is a television producer, who blogs at wifemotherandotherlabels.wordpress.com.

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