It’s a tall order to figure out where to begin, but this fall a few of us have discovered a useful tool – handed us by our very own city hall.
Two years ago I began participating in the ‘Prayer for the City’ gatherings that Jonathan Bird was hosting at CityGate (currently Wednesdays, 8 – 9 am).
At first, our prayers were somewhat haphazard. Then, as Jonathan and Flyn Ritchie (my husband) began putting together their Vancouver neighbourhoods articles, we began focusing on the particular neighbourhood that was being featured that week in Church for Vancouver.
We prayed over all 23 neighbourhoods, and were thinking of going through them again, when Jonathan produced copies of Vancouver’s Healthy City for All: Healthy City Strategy.
We recognized that it was quite thorough, and decided to pray through each descriptor of a healthy city (as identified by the city). After all, we are to “seek the good” of the place to which we have been called (in Jeremiah 29, for example).
We began at the bottom of the circle, with ‘Feeding Ourselves’ (the wheel image in this article has been modified, and is different from the one we began with), because one of our little group, Karen Giesbrecht, facilitates several community food endeavours.
We heard some of her concerns, added situations we were aware of – Jonathan being an invaluable asset when it comes to knowing the city – and found we had plenty to pray about.
We decided to work our way clockwise, so the next week was ‘A Home for Everyone.’ Since that topic is much in the news, and we know people suffering from a lack of adequate space and even lack of housing altogether, it was easy to pray passionately.
The following week, while considering ‘A Good Start,’ we identified groups and agencies which strive to give our children the foundation they need, and prayed for everything from individual families to agencies such as neighbourhood houses, day care centres, after school tutoring programs and schools.
Praying over “A Thriving Economic Environment’ was particularly illuminating, as it was an area I had never given much thought.
In pooling our ideas, inspirations and knowledge, we begin to see how much God is already doing in our city, and thank him, while recognizing our utter dependence on him.
Glenn Smith of Christian Direction, who spoke at the City Summit November 24 – 25 (see accompanying articles) has developed what he calls ‘Key Indicators of a Transformed City.’ Along with Vancouver’s Healthy City wheel, it can serve as our vision of what we are praying into (though he points out that each city needs to come up with its own indicators).
Taken together, we are given both hope and a job to do.