Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You're In Our Prayers.. REALLY?

Dear Friends,

“You’re in our prayers.” Really? Do we mean that? Or has this become just a nice thing for us to say when someone is struggling over something? Have you noticed that the official politically-correct, government-approved platitude following a tragedy is that those who have suffered a loss “..are in our thoughts and prayers”? For corporations and public entities, these words have become standard language on press releases and are uttered with seeming sincerity at press conferences. 

Okay. Call me cynical and maybe I am because for twenty five years I was a State and then a City employee. So I’ve worked in the government sausage factory and I know what gets ground into the product that’s fed to the public. It goes without saying that the mayor and heads of the police and fire departments don’t adjourn the press conference and go to the government chapel to pray. The insincere press release cliche that those suffering are in their collective “thoughts and prayers” is to convey their human side and impart the message that they truly care about people while their underlying intent is to exploit every tragedy for self-serving reasons; typically to increase a department budget. (I know that sounds harsh but it's unfortunately true. Many government employees do sincerely care. But government has an ingrained culture that is constantly striving to spin information for political purposes.)

As Christians, when we tell someone that they are “in our prayers,” has that now become a meaning-less religiously-correct, church-approved response in order to make someone feel better? Have the words “I’ll pray for you,” become just a cliche that we automatically say to someone who is struggling or suffering? Do we “spin” our response to a person in a self-serving way and just tell them that we’re praying for them so that we will look more spiritual?  And, be honest here.. stop for a moment and look at the cartoon. Raise your hand if you’ve ever done that...

Some of us struggle with prayer. I recently read that the greatest difficulty in most believer’s Christian walk is their prayer life. Why is that? Is it because we have the wrong kind of faith? 

Everyone lives by faith. Christian, Atheist, Jew, Buddhist – all live by faith. The word faith comes from a Greek word meaning to have belief or confidence in something. We all believe in some thing. But are we believing in the wrong thing? We can believe that our prayer is meaningless. We have faith that prayer doesn’t work. We have a confidence that other people have “Godpower” in their prayers and our own prayers are spiritually hollow and ineffective.

Or do we have faith that prayer is the medium through which our spirit is intended to affect and by affected by the will and purpose of the divine Creator? Do we have faith that when we are obedient to God’s will, and pray accordingly, God will grant that prayer request? “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 

If the Word of God really is true and the “whole-hearted prayers of righteous men and women accomplish much good,” (James 5:16 - my paraphrase) then why in Heaven’s name wouldn’t we pray for those who have been given to us by God? When we say, “I’ll pray for you” let’s make sure that’s always a promise and never a platitude. Amen?