Thursday, May 31, 2012

Avoiding False Hopes

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. Romans 1:8-10

I’ve done it a thousand times.  I wish it hadn’t taken that long, but it did.  I guess it had slowly just become a part of my conversation… Upon hearing of someone’s illness, or struggle, to casually say “Oh, well I will pray for you…” or when a friend calls and you ask how their day is, they reply: “It’s been awful.  I could really use your prayers…” and we reply that we will remember them when we pray…But we don’t’.  I caught this as a pattern in my life, and I decided to do something about it!

A Culture of Concern
In circles of Christians, we hear the request for prayers so often that it’s possible to actually become deafened to them.  “Hey, we are travelling to Abilene for that court thing this week, keep us in your prayers.”  “Okay.  You guys be safe!”  It becomes a religious version of simply stating: “That’s really sad.” or “Wow, I wish you hadn’t had that happened.”  It’s very easy to slip in a concerned “I will be in prayer for you.” And then move about our lives…and we might remember to pray…or we might not.  Right?  It’s not something we would want to do, it just happens.

But, prayer is important, isn’t it.  We are talking about real people, with real needs, looking for real change in their situations!  We can see how silly the habit of intercessory neglect is when the context of the need is changed: “Uh yeah, I’m going to be at the bottom of the pool in about twelve hours, and I’m going to need someone to drop me my next tank of air.  I’d appreciate you remembering me today.” “Hey, you bet.  I will.”  And then we go home and go about our lives, and forget to do what we said we would.  Problem. Right?

THAT’S how I felt when I realized that I had fallen into the habit of telling people I would pray for them, but then allow life to crowd that commitment out of my day.  I didn’t ever want to tell someone that I would bear him or her up in prayer again, unless I made certain that I did just that!  I want to be that guy, that if you ask him to pray for you, you know that you are being prayed for!

Committing to Pray
The Apostle Paul prayed.  Not just the incidental kinds of prayer we might have a pattern of doing.  He really, really, prayed.  All the time!  Now while I wasn’t witness to this dedication personally, we do see it in his letters, like the passage from Romans above.  He talked about praying unceasingly for the church at Rome.  We see it again in Ephesians 1:15-19, Ephesians 3:14-19, Philippians 1:9-11, and in his letters to the Colossians, and the Thessalonians, and in his letter to Philemon as well.  Paul PRAYED for his people!!  Hey prayed for them as if it were a life or death situation.  In some cases, it was!

I remember a few years ago when my oldest son Jordan became infected with a deadly strain of e-Coli.  It was bizarre, driving him to the hospital – not knowing if I would get to drive him home again…ever.  I prayed for my son!  I didn’t forget to pray for him.  It wasn’t a casual matter of short mentions in prayer.  I prayed night and day, beating on the door of heaven.  If I was awake, I was not far from the place of petition. I was scared to death that his illness would steal him from me.

Do we pray for the needs of others?  Are we fulfilling our commitment to them for prayer?  If you look at your own life, and observe a pattern of unfulfilled promises and casual prayer commitment, it’s time to break the pattern!  Avoid false hopes. Pray.

Scripture to Claim:
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power,  2 Thessalonians 1:11

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