8 At Rephidim, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. 9 Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
10 So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur. 11 As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.12 Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
13 And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Exodus 17: 8-13
Even though it was only a few days, the time during my “hiatus” was absolutely packed with lessons learned. I learned lessons, again, about priorities. I learned, again, about perseverance and was soundly reminded about the primacy of prayer. I am not certain I can communicate the things I want to share clearly or well. As I try to put it in words, I think, “well, yeah, that’s true for everyone.” In one sense, of course, it is for everyone. Yet I am speaking of something different, something “more” than the thing that is “for everyone.”
A few years ago, I was told by a priest whom I love and respect that I am called to Prayer. I am to be a Prayer Warrior.
As I said in the beginning, in one sense “that’s true for everyone.” Every one of us is to engage in deep and deliberate prayer, to praise and honor God through prayer, to dive deep into his life and His heart through prayer. But this is not what Father J. meant. He meant that my “mission”, my “ministry” is prayer. Just as some are apologists or evangelists. or teachers, some us pray. Pray, pray, pray! Prayer is not the means by which I can successfully fulfill other missions the Lord gives me, it is the mission.
I suppose it might be helpful to illustrate what I mean by “different” if I point to the cloistered nuns whose entire mission to the Church and the world is to pray. They are called out of the world to simply live lives of prayer. That is their mission. There are sisters who are not cloistered who also must pray much and also for the grace to be successful in the mission they are given. Both of these groups of consecrated women must pray, are obligated to pray, but there are some whose whole mission is the praying. And while I am not called to be cut off from the world, in a similar way, the “ministry prayer” that I have been called to is, like the cloistered nuns, more and different than others are called to do. It doesn’t make me special. It makes me accountable.
I am to pray and intercede for others, I am to pray with others, I am to pray boldly. I am to pray against the “wickedness and snares of the devil.” I am to pray for the will of God to be accomplished. I am to pray for healing, hope, liberation, conversion and so much more.
Of course, no matter what we are called to, prayer is necessary to succeed in what the Lord would have us do, but for some of us, prayer is IT. Father’s words to me were not a blinding revelation. I knew this and there was a time that I embraced it, by the grace of God, much more fully than I had been lately. Lately, I let my hands down. I may have grown weary. More likely lazy.
It wasn’t that I was not praying. I most certainly was praying. I prayed for my family and my friends. I prayed praise and repentance and thanksgiving. I never stopped praying, but the Lord reminded me quite clearly that I had not kept prayer as he had called me to keep it. I stopped being a Warrior. In short, I prayed as I would if, for example, God called me to be a teacher of women. Clearly those engaged in this type of ministry must have a real, deep prayer life to succeed at what God gives them, but this was not the kind of prayer I am called to. Even though I had met my “minimal obligations” to pray (and I was quite sincere in it) it was not enough. And I knew it.
In times of difficulty (for myself, my family or anyone) I could see the need for more prayer, for increased prayer. When I saw the need to step up, I did. I have been faithful to pray for those who were in great need, but I failed to engage as fully as I have been called. I’ve been slacking in the “mission” aspect of my prayer. I can’t even remember the last time I prayed with someone (other than community or family prayer.) And I could see clearly where my own family was affected directly by my slacking . It got my attention. It was while I was on my face before God, looking for answers to the things going on around me that I realized that I was letting “Amalek” get the better of the fight by lowering my hands. I allowed it.
Daily I will put on the Armor of God, and being a Moses, I will lift my hands in prayer and do battle during the trials of this life. I must also be Aaron and Hur and hold up the hands of others as they continuously pray. This is where I fight the fight. This is my mission.
I accept it.
A warrior is back.