By Brenda Black
Standing in the gap is a privileged place to be. Though my arms aren't long enough to reach from me to thee. My mind isn't big enough to comprehend your worry and grief. But I'm standing in the gap because you need me. I'm praying with tears and praying with pleas. I'm asking for answers to questions that are not easy. Standing, kneeling, crying, praying – because you asked me. I would love to take your burden and sling it far into the galaxy. I would remove it as far as the West from the East to set you free, because you trusted me with your needs.
Standing in the gap has me up in the wee hours of the night when normal people sleep, because your worry makes me restless. So I'll stay up and talk to God and you just get some sleep. That's how standing in the gap works best. And when the day dawns and you face your dreaded trial, I'll know that I have done all I can to lift you to the Lord. And that's enough because His hand can reach you and me when standing isn't really standing. It's falling on our faces and bending our knees.
It's nearly two in the morning and I can't sleep because a friend is suffering. She's scared and uncertain; she's mentally already sat a hundred times in the sterile room she'll enter this day, to receive frightening and dreaded news. I tried to go through my bedtime routines last night, but found myself dripping as wet from tears as from the shower faucet that gushed streams of water. In every drop from the pipes and my eyes I mentioned her name and pushed it through the ceiling and heavenward with anguish as though my force would hasten some celestial intervention.
Prayer is an amazing gift and an incredible burden. Have I prayed often enough or hard enough? How much is really depending on my faithfulness? Will I ever know if it made any difference? There are no easy answers as I await heavenly signals. But there is sweet release and the certainty that my prayers have not fallen on deaf ears. For my God does not slumber or sleep! My God knows every thought and intention before I speak! My God is able!
So I must trust and just keep on praying, for I believe that God has our best interests at heart and He is already at work if we just ask, seek and knock. Silence may be His answer. Healing may be His delight. Death may be His sweet release, but God will do what is right. He is not capable of less. And in the meantime, when we are called upon by those we love so deeply to stand in the gap and pray for His mercy, we keep on praying without ceasing.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord...” (James 1:2-8a)
Standing in the gap takes energy and effort. Standing in the gap calls for surrender, yet a determined grit to dig in and fight to the finish. Standing in the gap is warfare, plain and simple. What we bring to the battle is belief. What we take away is peace.
The alternative is defeat. The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel and warned: “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 22:30-31)
I think I'd rather stand in the gap and fervently pray so as to draw near to the Holy God than to experience His fierce judgment for being a wind-weathered crumbling brick in a broken wall.