‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ Amos 5:24
We long to see justice roll, yet upon hearing of the 8-year old boy enslaved on a fishing boat, the prisoner illegally detained, the child held in prostitution, we feel completely helpless. I am no lawyer, investigator, social worker. Maybe not, but the work of justice begins with you and I – to seek justice means to first seek the God of justice.
The great mystery of God is that he calls us into what he is doing. He could proclaim the gospel to the entire world in a breath, feed a nation with five loaves and two fish, calm any storm with a word, release captives by his angels. Yet he invites us to join him – a global movement seeking justice, moved to stand with the prisoner, with the child… moved to pray.
What does this look like? How do we pray that justice would roll on like a river?
Water looks different depending on where it is in a river’s watercourse – the brief, powerful, tumbling flow of a waterfall; the narrow, steady meander around a bend in a valley; some times a wide, slow current. There will be times of brief and powerful intercession and times of steady, rhythmic and prayerful petition – the roar of thousands in a stadium, the whisper of a boy in his bed.
At International Justice Mission (IJM), daily rhythms of prayer are written into each day, every staff member spending one hour of their contracted daily time in prayer – half an hour in stillness and silence and half an hour corporately. Aware of our human limitations, before each lawyer steps into court, investigator goes undercover, social worker begins a session, or speaker stands on a stage, we pray, ‘God, let justice roll.‘ Sometimes we see a miraculous provision, a rescue of scale beyond belief, other times months are spent relentlessly praying for breakthrough in a case – justice seemingly a steady, slow trickle. Like a river’s watercourse, prayer looks different each day, but it happens faithfully, rhythmically, in the knowledge that justice begins and ends with God.
In his book Good News About Injustice, IJM’s CEO Gary Haugen writes about ‘compassionate permanence – a courageous and generous capacity to remember the needs of an unjust world even when they are out of our immediate sight’. Just as an infant loses interest in a toy when it is removed from sight, so too is it easy to lose interest in the reality of injustice in our world. There have been times that my heart has been powerfully moved to stop and fight in prayer for a person or situation, only to then so quickly forget. It is through rhythms of daily prayer that I am beginning to cultivate a remembrance of those suffering abuse and oppression in our world. Only by the steady, never-failing stream of prayer, will we see breakthrough – people rescued and healed, systems and nations transformed, a world meandering towards justice.
Every river, every rhythm, starts somewhere – join the global prayer movement and see justice roll on.
Don’t know where to start? Sign-up for IJM’s updates and pray with us.
Zoë Anderson is part of the International Justice Mission (IJM) team; working throughout Scotland to mobilise volunteers, students and youth in championing the work of justice within their own spheres and according to their own strengths. IJM is a global organisation made up of lawyers, social workers, investigators and community activists who protect the poor from violence. Since being founded in 1997, they have grown to become the world’s largest international anti-slavery organisation, partnering with local authorities around the world to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems.
For further ideas and inspiration around how to pray in times of crisis and in situations of injustice, check out the Prayer page on the the 24-7 Prayer website.