Romans 8:26 ESV
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Recently I was talking with my Sunflower about the nature of God, and the Holy Spirit. This conversation came about because a friend of mine posted this image, and after a pretty extensive search it seems the image itself was deleted so I can’t post it here. After a long google image search, I couldn’t find the exact image, but reading it made me think.
“Let me pray for you.” “No. Your prayers mean nothing to me. If you want to help, do something constructive.”
The core message of the image, it was a pretty simple message. Just a few lines of bold text on a grey background and it made me wonder once more, what we did to find ourselves in this place, where the most important thing to us has become a meaningless fountain to others.
When a Christian says, “I’ll pray for you.” It is supposed to be important. We are offering up a request to the creator of the universe to help you. We are asking our God, who is bigger and more powerful than our deepest imaginings could discern. Yet, so often this falls upon deaf ears. We fail to follow through, and more importantly, we use prayer as a substitute.
I know I’ve been guilty of it, I know other Christians have been as well.
When a friend comes to us in times of tragedy and reveals to us the things that have broken their heart and our only response is “I will pray for you.” It comes across as insensitive, unloving. To a non-believer, God is meaningless. Because we know Him and feel His hand in our lives means nothing to them. Therefore, our prayers are effectively meaningless to them. How could they, in their struggle, expect a God they don’t believe to exist to reach His hand out of the sky and aid them through their struggles? They don’t, and it turns our greatest offering to them to nothing.
We are called to do more than just to pray. Even better, don’t tell your friend or loved one that you will pray for them later in the day, when you have a free moment, as if your current moment is more important. Because it’s not. Offer to them immediately, to pray for them before them. Prayers don’t have to be tactfully organized and worded beautifully. My best prayers have consisted of tears and silence otherwise, they have been a jumble of words that make no sense and mean nothing, they have been single words to my Heavenly Father and in the end, what I need reaches Him. That is one of the many duties of the Holy Spirit, when our words fail, the heart of our prayers still reaches God.
But God didn’t call us to pray and pray alone.
James 2:14-17 ESV
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
I’ve wondered about this verse for a long time, but when I put it into this context, it began to make a lot of sense. I am guilty of being the prayer guy. When someone comes to me with strife and pain my reply is always, “I will pray for you.” And then I go about my day. My faith was alone because I refused to do what God commanded of me because I believed it was unnecessary. I believed that by offering their hearts up to God in prayer, I had fulfilled my duty to love them, but love doesn’t work that way.
I’ve found that more often than not, Love works in the way we would least expect.
Love is getting on your hands and knees to scrub carpets and clean houses, it is organizing funerals and helping your friends move their ex-wife’s belongings out of their house. It is removing someone from a position of power because they suffer from debilitating addiction and can no longer perform. It is getting to the root of the problem and hacking away with them, sweat on our brows. Sweat that comes from helping others in their place, not ours.
So often our prayers are our answer to others pain because we can pray from the comfort of our own homes and our own circles. When we pray for them, we don’t actually have to help. It is so much easier to let God handle it, God is bigger than I am anyway, right?
I don’t think that’s what God really wants from us.
Obviously, there will be pains that arise that we cannot aid. We don’t have all of the answers, and sometimes, prayer is all that is needed, but we have grown complacent as a group. We have left half of our duty out to dry while we care deeply for the practice of prayer. We fold it and place it safely in our dresser while we let our works be exposed to the elements, forgetting that they are there like laundry hung on a line that we didn’t really want to wear, we just own it in case the need arises.
Well, take it from one failure to another, the need arises more often than you think it does.
The next time someone comes to me with pain, we as Christians need to remember what Jesus said…
Matthew 25:44-45 NIV
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Thank you for spending time with me today. It means the world. ❤
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Categories: Umbral Dawning