Standing in the Gap
And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. –Ezekiel 22:30
This phrase (standing in the gap) came to me out of the blue this morning. I have never said this before, and I had to look up the Biblical reference. It seems the Lord God was giving the prophet Ezekiel quite an earful, denouncing the faithless leaders of the time. The Lord couldn’t find anyone who would stand up for him, and try to repair what was broken.
Checking into it further, I learned that to “stand in the gap” has come to mean praying on behalf of people who cannot or will not pray for themselves, to act as an intermediary, interceding with God for them. Do I do that? I’ve certainly prayed on behalf of my kids when they were sick or hurt. I prayed for my mom on her deathbed, when she had no words of her own left. Nowadays, I find myself praying the news, asking God to help with what seem to be some hopeless situations.
But it’s the first part of the Ezekiel verse that brought me up short. Seems it’s not enough to just pray about things—we are required to do something to fix what is wrong. And that is where the rubber meets the road. I can be on my knees 24/7, but it’s when I get up and take action that God’s work gets done. To stand in the gap for innocent children who are being mistreated takes more than a few mumbled words. To stand in the gap for the mentally ill who are struggling means being an advocate, working to get them help.
I am in no way discounting prayer; I have known it to be a very powerful thing, conversing with God, opening my mind and heart. I truly believe that my prayers are heard. But I also believe that God expects something of me, of all of us. It can be really challenging to figure out just what that something is at times, but we need to make that effort. To stand in the gap, but then, to get moving. To try our best to be God’s hands and feet. Our loving actions on behalf of others ARE prayers, beautiful partnerships with the Divine.
Offering our “thoughts and prayers” as so many do these days when disasters strike, has become pretty meaningless, if no attempt is made to better the situation. We are called to not only stand in the gap, but to walk boldly and confidently forward in this broken world, using every tool we possess to repair the damage all around us. I believe that every step we take brings us closer, both to each other, and to the One who made us. Together, I feel certain that we can bridge every gap that separates us.