I learned a new prayer in France this week. A friend here told me of a woman in her home church who stood up and shared this prayer she says every morning, when she wakes:
Thank you for Life. (Because she could have died in the night.)
Thank you for my life.
Thank you for everything you are going to do today.
But there’s one more detail. As you imagine this woman standing to say this prayer, you must also know she does not sit or stand or walk or do anything easily. She shakes and trembles. Sometimes it is even hard to speak. “Thank you for my life” she says, like this.
I have been speaking this prayer since I heard of it. I am not a cheerful waker. I wake slowly, dutifully, not gladly. . I wake heavy, as if I will have to carry buckets of water all day. And sometimes I do. But by the time I am dressed and put lipstick on, I remember: I did not make this day. I am not in charge of this day. God is. Which means anything can happen, so stay awake for what might happen.
What did God do this week? There were 125 of us, women from Mongolia, Nigeria, Uganda, Japan, Greece, France, Switzerland, Canada, U.K. Romania, and more for this Lifesprings International gathering. I was the speaker. I poured out my little Alaskan life, threw my paper cup full of bears and fish, storms and boats; my stories of running away and coming close, of denials and repentance, of storms and giving up, of false gospels and true, and hard rescues and long wide mercies.
And others poured back. Over dinner, one woman told me of her abusive marriage. Irene from Uganda told of her double lung transplant and the loss of both legs. One woman tearfully told me her story of infertility, her longing for a child. One woman believes in God but feels nothing—What is wrong with me? One tells me of the tragic death of her husband. Another asks me, after my last presentation, if God and I had read her journals. How did you answer all the questions I wrote in my journal this morning? One woman says yes to following Jesus. And more, and more . …
(Thank you for everything you are going to do today.)
At dinner, I sit at a table with women who have poured out their lives for others for decades. Laura, 62, has been living in Albania for thirteen years, helping to launch a church. Martha, 67, will go to Uganda next year to help launch a school of ministry. Dinah will begin a school in Romania. Mara, 60, will bring theological education to women in her native Uganda. Raquela, from the Middle East, teaches Bible studies for Arabic speaking women.
I am the speaker but every day they teach me.
(Thank you for everything you are going to do today)
But Maybe I already know what God is doing, yesterday, last week and today (and forever.) In my own country, people who share the same language and savior are dividing, riven, fearful, angry: Politics. Here women from 15 nations collect their voices to pray, sing and teach in many tongues but the same language: Praise.
This is what God is doing and what God wants to do. Everywhere.
On one of our days together, twenty of us from a handful of nations toured the United Nations. That evening, there was a reunion. For the first time, the women from Mongolia met the women from Africa who had been praying so long for them. Spontaneously, they formed a circle and prayed for one another.
As we toured the halls of the United Nations that day, we knew what will someday unite people from every nation and tribe. We knew the secret that can unite us all even now, today.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. “
Two prayers. When you rise each morning, pray the French woman’s prayer. Then the rest of the day, watch how you and God together can make the second prayer come true.
Thank you for Life, Lord.
Thank you for my life.
Thank you for all you are going to do today.
Thank you, everyone, for reading. If you know someone who needs encouragement, who needs either one of these prayers, please send it on? (And for those who prayed for me during this trip——-ahhhhhh! Do you see what your prayers have done?)