Friends in North Georgia,
We had hoped for a different solution to our struggle in north Georgia. We hoped for a solution that would allow churches ready to disaffiliate to do so without further contention or disagreement. With no solution in sight, we are left to wait, watch, and act in ways that strain our understanding.
Waiting is hard. What does waiting gain us, and when is waiting no longer in God’s answer?
When the wait is beyond our control, it tugs especially on the fruits of the Spirit. It tries patience, strains kindness, stretches self-control almost to the breaking point. Then we are left with two options: give in and let our baser instincts lead; or surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When the waiting is hard, which will you choose? And when waiting is no longer God’s answer (when God moves us to act boldly), what does that mean for us in terms of character and conduct? These are the ways we’ll pray this week, as we continue to seek God for a peaceful solution to our current reality in north Georgia.
1) Many lay leaders, pastors, and congregations in north Georgia are making tough decisions this week, in light of inactions among conference leaders. Pray for wisdom among our leaders — both conference leaders and church leaders. Pray that what seems like an impasse might become a miraculous way through.
Lord, these are stressful days. Our genuine desire is to do what is right for your Church and your people. Grant us the grace to act unselfishly, without malice or fear. Help us to listen for your Spirit’s still, small voice. Give me ears to hear the voices — both yours and those of wise counselors — that will lead me into righteousness. Help us hear your call to love well, serve well, and lead well.
2) Pray that the fruit of the Spirit would be manifest in the life of every United Methodist lay person and leader.
Holy Spirit, fill us and grow within us the fruit of your filling. Make us loving toward everyone (even those who anger us), patient when our patience is stretched, joyful despite the circumstances. Cause us to be a non-anxious, peaceful presence, Pour into us the kindness of Jesus. Give us eyes to see what is good in the world and in our situation. Grant us gentle speech and faithful action. And in your mercy, give us the grace of self-control, so we do nothing before its time and say nothing that will do harm to your Kingdom.
3) Pray that all of us who are making tough choices for our churches and for our Annual Conference will know the timing of God and act accordingly. Pray for ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart to receive God’s best.
Jesus, we hear your word to your own mother: “It is not yet my time.” And we hear the word of Solomon: “There is a time for everything.” Discerning kairos time is hard. Please lead us, Lord, so we are step in step with your divine timing — not getting ahead of you in our impatience, nor lagging behind in our fear. Most of all, we want to be in step with you.
4) A prayer written by Thomas Merton has often been a comfort, and you may find it useful this week as you seek to be faithful in the face of difficult choices:
O Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And that fact that I think
I am following Your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe
That the desire to please You
Does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire
In all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
Apart from that desire to please You.
And I know that if I do this
You will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always
Though I may seem to be lost
And in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
For You are ever with me,
And You will never leave me
To make my journey alone.