Each Monday at each L’Abri branch across the globe is set apart for prayer. Normally at Swiss L’Abri we take a few hours after breakfast: the workers rotate hosting the prayer morning, beginning our time together by reading a chapter or two from a book which sometimes concerns prayer, but not always. This reading is to encourage reflection and often shows up in my prayers later that afternoon. After the reading, we present our requests to one another and then pray for one another, for our families at home, for the needs of L’Abri, for the church, and for the world. Lunch discussions on Mondays often revolve around prayer: What is prayer; what does it consist of? Does it work? How do we pray? Why do we pray? Shouldn’t we pray for more ‘spiritual’ matters than physical concerns? How does one’s view of God’s providence affect how we pray?
This past Monday we had a special day of prayer and fasting because our financial situation has been desperate all summer. We went through the morning almost as usual, then we cancelled all morning work crews, fasted lunch, and reconvened at quarter to four to close in prayer together. The morning went really well for me; it was eye-opening; it felt productive, though that word doesn’t posses the right feeling because my prayer and study was more listening than doing, if that makes any sense. It was cool to intersperse prayer with study because what I was reading would sneak its way into my prayers, particularly into my confession. From what I could tell, the morning went this way for much of the community also.
L’Abri has, from the beginning, chosen this manner of dependence for her financial needs, and functions on a month-to-month basis. With the money that comes in, we pay our bills first, and then the workers’ salaries, which means some months the staff take pay-cuts, some months they don’t get paid at all. From what I gather, this summer has been one of those seasons of pay-cuts and wageless months. Our donations come almost entirely in US dollars, and as you all are no doubt well aware, the dollar isn’t fairing too well and continues to decline. What that means for us is that when a donor gives the same dollar amount each month, let’s say $50, the buying power of that $50 is weaker; the bill we once could pay in full with a favorable exchange rate, we can no longer pay in full, eventhough the gift is quite possibly a more strenuous sacrifice for the donor than it once was. Everything in Switzerland is expensive, and with 40-plus people constantly living in one community, energy bills are outrageous though we strive to be conscientious conservers. I say all this to say, when you think about me, think about L’Abri; when you pray for me, pray for L’Abri, on Mondays and any day.