When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
This is a familiar statement to me: I live in London and I commute to work every day. Like lots of you, I share the space with different people, all of us heading off to our own thing, in our own way, at our own pace. Sometimes it’s nice to share the space, most of the time it’s pretty annoying.
But every now and then I remember to pause and think about the fact that these nameless people getting in my space (walking too slow, walking too fast, eating too loudly, talking too loudly…) are known and loved by our creator God. I can’t quite fathom it – how could you know this many people so intimately? And this is just a tiny snapshot of one city, in one nation, in the whole of the global population who exist now and have ever existed. The harvest is plentiful…
Call me a wimp, but I’m never going to stand up on my packed commuter train and start sharing the gospel. I’m also not going to strike up a quiet conversation with the worker next to me and find out if they know Jesus – partly because I’m just not going to do that, and partly because I respect the commuter’s right to not speak before 9am. So what am I going to do about this plentiful harvest?
I’m going to pray. Obviously.
I’m going to make a habit of praying every day as I step on the train. I can pray for my fellow commuters, for their days, for their worries, for their joys. Each day I can pick a different person and utter a simple prayer of blessing for them. And I can pray that someone from my Christian family will be in their day – maybe a colleague, a health professional, a family member, a spouse. I can pray that my Christian family will be an unseen team about my chosen fellow passenger, that today (or tomorrow, next week/month/year) someone will share a little of who Jesus is, backed up and supported by my morning prayer.
We are a team, the Christian family. We play different parts, we have different roles to fulfil. Maybe the day I pray for the woman next to me on the train is the day she walks into her office, sits down at her desk next to you and shares that she’s been thinking about God and wonders what you think about faith.
Or maybe the man who comes into your library and asks for the section on religion was prayed for by the person who served him his coffee this morning. And maybe later, after you’ve uttered a silent prayer for him in his searching, he’ll decide to take up his friend’s offer and go to Alpha tonight.
Or maybe the teaching assistant at your kid’s school who you encourage your children to pray for every night, will look up her local church this lunchtime and commit herself to walking through the doors on Sunday morning.
None of us know what story our prayers are part of. And maybe one day I’ll have to hear God tell me that today’s the day to take a deep breath and ask my fellow-commuter if they know Jesus, because yesterday her neighbour asked her the same question but now she’s ready to answer it. And it’s my job to ask.
All you can do is play your part.