On Fire, Urgency, and Prayer
A few days ago, I wrote about my love for Colorado’s mountains. Even then, they were on fire, but it’s gotten much, much worse. At present count there are 13 fires burning in Colorado, several of them close to major cities but none closer than the Waldo Canyon Fire, which is currently burning right into Colorado Springs. Thousands of people have been evacuated (including the Air Force Academy), and among them several of my friends and family.
We’ve been seeing frightening pictures of the fire looming over the front range, the sky red and angry behind, the smoke filling the city and plunging it into a perpetual dusk. But this morning a friend posted the below photo that slapped me across the face with the reality of the situation and brought stinging tears to my eyes. There’s a whole gallery here but I didn’t have the heart to look further than the first few pictures.
This isn’t, by any means, the first fire we’ve had this season, and it’s certainly not the first to destroy homes. My mom has a good friend in Ft. Collins that lost a home less than a month ago to the High Park fire, which is still burning. But this fire is the first to catch the attention of the nation. Suddenly, I’m seeing friends from other states and even other countries posting about our wildfires. The other fires we’ve had have been no less devastating to the individual people who lost everything they had, but the scale of Waldo Canyon is much bigger.
A few days ago, as this fire first began to rage, I saw various facebook friends writing, “Pray for Colorado” and “Pray for rain” and so forth, there were maps of Colorado showing where there were fires burning, headlines about how contained each fire was. It wasn’t until Waldo Canyon fire made the jump over a few major roads and began to burn in the direction of more heavily populated areas that the prayer requests began to sound very serious. And that’s when many of us began to actually pray.
I think a lot of us are conditioned to say, “I’ll be praying for you!” but I think, in large part, it’s just a thing we say. Whether I let it slip my mind, don’t consider it very serious, or am simply taking part in a kind of Christian social nicety, I don’t pray for people nearly as often as I say I will.
Stephen and I were talking this morning and he pointed out that we often don’t pray until the need is urgent. We hear the news, see the smoke, see the red sky on the horizon, but we don’t begin to fervently pray until our friend’s homes are literally on fire. Until their marriage is on fire. Until their finances are on fire, their health is on fire. We don’t pray until our lives are burning down.
Maybe this is just me. Prayer and intercession is something I’ve long struggled to understand, but I do believe prayer is powerful and effective and necessary. So, what if I prayed with true urgency at the first sign of trouble, for myself, my friends, my family, my community? What if we all did? What if we didn’t leave it as a last resort?
I want to say that I’m sorry. To those of you who have needed prayer, who have needed help, who have needed heavenly intervention, I’m sorry. I could have prayed, but I probably didn’t. To those of you leaving your homes, losing everything you have, fighting these fires, I’m sorry. I should have been praying for you, but I wasn’t. To everyone who I’ve given a hollow promise to pray, I’m so sorry.
I’m going to begin today, to pray like Jesus prayed, understanding my authority and favor in His sight, and calling things that aren’t as though they are. Join me, if you (like me) haven’t been praying. It’s time for us to pull heaven down to earth.