Zackie Achmat, who found himself sharing a protest outside parliament with a group from some churches, said that he wasn't interested in praying. I guess in his mind praying is at the least passive and at the worst ineffective.
I have found that when I pray for a community from the pulpit, and the congregation is obviously part of this, change happens. I'm sure it is not only as a result of prayer - activism is also often needed - but it seems to me that there is a link between prayer and change.
We have prayed often and earnestly about the violence and gangsterism in the Elsies River community. A new, additional, satellite police station has now been opened in the area. It would be fair to say that this was triggered by the tragic death of a child, but I believe that both prayer and protest paved the way for this solution. We will continue praying - now for the success and effective operation of the satellite station.
The question I had was how it happened that when I prayed so seldom the prayer was still effective - as I have not been in the pulpit in Elsies River every week. I think I found an answer today during a prayer meeting at 'my' other church. I heard congregants praying with the same sort of words with which I lead them and I realise now that when I pray I also model praying and this is picked up, probably subconsciously, by the people listening. This means that many people continue praying in the week, and weeks, what they have heard in church.
So prayer in the pulpit is multiplied many times and God is invited to work in our world over and over again. Pretty powerful!