This is the view I saw every Thursday morning.
Before the kids went to school. Before the streets smelled like dal bhat. I’d sit facing this doorway, a shawl over my head. And I’d pray.
My husband Richard and I lived in Nepal for five years in the early 2000s. We were serving with International Nepal Fellowship (seconded by TEAR Australia). Richard worked with the finance team, working closely with Krishna Adhikari the current Director of INF Nepal. I cared for our two young children and was involved in our local community. We loved living in Nepal. We made lifelong friends and were taught things about ourselves and about God’s grace that we may not have learned any other way.
Very early in our time in Nepal we decided to join a small church on the fringes of town. We pushed our buggy (jogger pram) up the hill each Saturday to join the weekly services. We practiced our Nepali language and were welcomed into homes. We found a sense of belonging despite our cultural blunders and clumsy manners. Our friends at church taught us a lot about commitment to Christ and the importance of expectant prayer. And this was the reason for my Thursday morning view.
It was on Thursday mornings that I’d journey to church for the women’s prayer meeting. We would sing a song or two – just the four or five (or sometimes more) of us who were gathered – and then we’d share prayer requests. We’d cover our heads with our scarfs or shawls, and we would pray.
Prayer was very practical on those Thursday morning. A daily bread type of prayer, but not in a cute quaint fashion. This daily bread was often life or death: a day’s employment, a portion of rice, medicine for an epileptic teen or safety for a relative working overseas. My own requests felt sometimes shallow compared to these. And yet there was a common sharing of purpose and commitment, a pressing in to God with the needs of our small lives, always expecting him to come through.
And he did. Not always perhaps as I might have ordained it. But God was obviously at work as a result of our prayers. I witnessed prayer as a communal act or worship, a holding of hands, a body working together to wait on and in the love of God. I remember once asking my friends whether they felt our prayer time was a burden in their busy, hard pressed lives. The answer was a resounding ‘no!’ These times were rest, they told me. Every other part of their week was consumed by work. They longed for and relished their special times of prayer.
I’ve thought about that since we’ve left Nepal. About how prayer is rest. How our approaching God through the work of Christ can be a literal laying down of our own striving. We rest in God’s way when we pray in his will. We pause, we stop hurrying, we physically slow down and consider God’s power and our own inadequacy – and there is peace in that place.
When I reflect and remember my time in Nepal, I am continually grateful. I still miss the view from that Thursday morning doorway. I miss my friends and their quiet, obedient passion for prayer. I miss the smell of waiting chiya and the community of faith. So sometimes, when I’m on my own, I pull a scarf up over my head again. I close my eyes and I remember to rest, and wait and pray. In expectation.
Philippians 4: 6 and 7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Breathing the Bible is an INF Australia blog series, exploring how life and service in Nepal influenced the way people read and respond to Scripture.
Penny Reeve served with INF Nepal along with her husband and family from 2001 to 2006.
Other posts in the series:
Breathing The Bible: Family
Breathing The Bible: Fellowship
Breathing The Bible: Justice
Breathing The Bible: Story
Breathing The Bible: Sacrifice
Breathing The Bible: Kingdom
Breathing The Bible: Wedding
Breathing The Bible: Gain