Actually, it happens every single day, with only minor changes. Murder, crime, disaster, deception. The whole world is hurting; the whole world is bent on evil and destruction.
For some reason last night the events seemed overwhelming, so I left the room —as if that could stem the tide of pain and fear and disgust that enveloped my heart.
“Lord,” I began to pray, “I hate to tell you this, but things are worse than yesterday.”
At bedtime I reflected on the day. I’d felt a lot more stress. Did that mean I was more caring, less apathetic about the troubles of the world? How much did God expect me to do about all of this?
Does God expect me to carry the troubles of the world on my mind?
Does God expect me to pray for each situation that I hear about?
Out of the blue, I thought of a lady who had recently caused a lot of trouble in the neighborhood. As I began to rehearse my complaints about her the Lord seemed to say, “It’s none of your business.”
The simplicity of the injunction startled me. “None of my business? Why, of course I know that You are in charge. You know what’s going on. You know what you are doing. But…..!”
With a deep breath I handed her over to the Lord. My heart felt lighter. I hurried on with my next prayer request.
Then I knew what to do. I could breathe a prayer of concern, not rehearsing all the details that I knew, but merely bringing the matter to the Lord, and next, consciously give Him permission (permission!) to do what His Word said. I could trust Him to work in people’s hearts, by His Holy Spirit, because that’s what His Word says. I could trust Him to take care of the biggest things, as well as the littlest.
A dear friend’s grandson is flirting with danger in a relationship with a girl at college. I care. But I can trust my Father implicitly. Right now, He’s telling me it’s none of my business, so my prayer about the situation is not long and tearful. I’m not trying to figure it out so that I can advise God on how to fix it. My prayer is, “Lord, I agree with what You are doing in this situation. I bless my friend and her grandson with a new awareness of Your presence. If there’s something for me to do, let me know. Meanwhile, I see it’s none of my business. I’m going to wait patiently to see how this goes. You are so good.”
Now when I hear the latest neighborhood gossip or the TV news, from the trivial to the terrible, I talk to God. It’s not formal or liturgical, just a little prayer conversation that goes something like this: “I love You, Lord, and I agree with what You’re doing to bring people to a personal relationship with You. Tell me if there’s something I should do about this.”
When He makes me know that something IS my business at this time, His Holy Spirit will direct and guide me when I ask for His help.
All by myself I cannot affect the war in the Middle East, but when He prompts me to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper or something else, He is giving me an assignment. I’ll do it, cheerfully trusting Him for the outcome.
When He says it’s none of my business I simply commit the situation to Him; then I can go happily on my way, believing and obeying Him.
Either way, as I watch things unfold here and around the world I won’t worry, whine and complain about it, or fear what’s going to happen next.
There is a time and a calling for fervent prayer, even fasting. When God so directs, He plans to bless you for your obedience. One of the early followers of Christ is described in Colossians 4:12 as “wrestling in prayer for you,” in NIV; or “laboring fervently for you in prayer,” in NKJV.
Christians are not to be unaware of the wiles of the devil, and our spiritual armor is not for decoration. But our first response to trouble is to turn to God. We need a knowledge of His will.
“ . . . since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you
and asking God to fill you
with the knowledge of His will
through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
(Colossians 1:9, NIV).
Trusting Him brings peace of mind, even in desperate situations. This new attitude is a new step of faith for me. My Father knows! My Father cares! He doesn’t need my suggestions or advice. The situation is always in His hands.
What a relief!
So, am I to be passive?
This is not to say it’s OK to be passive —far from it. The 100% Christian believer has an invitation from Jesus to “abide in Me.” This doesn’t mean an on-again, off-again prayer life, but a moment-by-moment open line of communication with Jesus.
Jesus showed us what to do. Take a new look at the Gospels and see how He mentored His rookies. When He ministered to a person He didn’t describe the problem to God in prayer. He spoke deliverance and healing. The model prayer He taught the disciples was both simple and profound. And, in all He did in those three-plus years of ministry He spoke with confidence. He spent much time alone, communing with His Father. You and I can learn much about prayer from His teaching and example.
What about us? When we consider someone’s need for healing of mind or body we can deal with the matter in great confidence. God does heal, even today. He may permit us to be part of that wonderful blessing. We may get to lay hands on the person and pray on the scene. Or we may be alerted to pray by a friend, and then pray the prayer of agreement together.
God has given us His Holy Spirit to live inside our hearts. The more we are submitted to Him the more we can realize, know, and appreciate that holy indwelling. We don’t need to “shout emotionally” when we pray because our prayers don’t need to “rise above the ceiling in the room.” We are speaking to our Best Friend, and He lives inside us.
Yes, we may shed some tears; that’s OK. Even Jesus wept when He saw the distress of His dear friends. He knew what He was going to do, yet His love spilled out of His eyes in those tender moments.
Our prayer might be longer and more intense before He gives the release. The Lord, Himself, will prompt us in the right way to handle each situation.
What a relief!
So, am I to be proud?
This is not to say that it’s OK to be brusque and uncaring towards others. In our personal ministry we must show His love, along with His power and authority. We must not put on a “look at me” mentality. God is in charge of results; He gets the credit.
God uses each calamity and each situation to bring us— the person praying—into a closer intimacy with Him. He wants to bring us to spiritual maturity.
God uses each calamity and situation to offer the needy, hurting person an opportunity to come to Him and receive Him. It may be time for honest heart-searching and repentance. It may be a time for new decisions.
Let God do His work in you; let Him do His work in the person with the problem—the person you are praying for. God does it in His time and in His way.
How can you face the increasing darkness of a world that is rejecting God? How can you read the newspaper and watch TV? How can you even walk through a hospital? Only by letting Him teach, remind, help, and empower you to do as He shows you.
There are times when what you see and hear and read about may not be your business. When He has an assignment for you He’ll let you know. For you and for me there’s more to know, more to believe, more to pray about, and more to do. All of this is a blessing from our Father because He loves us too much to let us stay stagnant and careless. God is faithful to His Word. We can trust Him.
What a relief!
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by Elaine Hardt ©2004