Dr. Doug Posey
When people share issues of concern in their lives, have you ever heard this response by the listener: “I’ll keep a good thought,” or “I’ll keep you in my thoughts”? When I hear that expression, I always assume that the person is trying to be benign and politically correct, instead of saying, “I’ll pray for you.” After all, what good does it do to merely think about a person’s problem? Can simply thinking attract the solution or access the power for the desired result? I think not!
Of course, it is equally non-productive to say you will pray for someone (not just think about them) and then not actually pray. Unfortunately, “I’ll pray for you” has become as ineffectual as “I’ll keep a good thought” because of a lack of follow-through. This story graphically describes how sad a lack of prayer follow-through can be:
Bill Lacovara was fishing on the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey, when he spotted a plastic bag floating in the water. Inside, he found about 300 prayers that had been mailed to a local pastor—most of which were unopened. The pastor had died two years earlier, and authorities speculated that the letters had been dumped as garbage after his house was cleaned out.
Some of the prayers were rather frivolous. For example, one man asked that God help him win the lottery…twice: “I'm still praying to hit the lottery twice,” he wrote. “First the $50,000—then, after some changes have taken place, let me hit the millionaire.” But many of the letters were heartbreaking. They came from anguished spouses, children, and widows, all crying out to God. Some prayed for relatives who were using drugs, gambling, or cheating on them. One man wrote from prison, saying that he was innocent and wanted to be back home with his family. A teenager poured out her heart on yellow-lined paper in the curlicue handwriting of a schoolgirl, begging God to forgive her and asking for a second chance. “Lord, I know that I have had an abortion, and I killed one of your angels,” she wrote. “There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about the mistake I made.”
Lacovara was saddened that so many prayers had been tossed away, unheeded.
Wayne Perry, Associated Press
Prayers that “had been tossed away.” That is an indescribable waste. Every day, at any moment—with 24-hour-per-day access—God gives us the opportunity to come to Him with even the seemingly insignificant and mundane. But there’s nothing insignificant or mundane about being able to speak with the Creator of the Universe, about anything. Do you take that privilege seriously?
Don’t toss away the privilege of praying. Take it seriously. Think about this: Your relationship to God through Christ can be traced back to the fact that people like the Apostle Paul took prayer seriously. He prayed specifically for the faith of our spiritual ancestors—the earliest church members. Had God never heard his prayers and sustained their faith, where would our faith be?
We can see many examples of this. Take his letter to the Colossians for example. After his brief, humble introduction of himself as he sits in a Roman prison, he is quick to let them know, “We (he and his companion, Timothy) give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you…” (Col. 1:3). Then, for the next ten verses, he discloses the multiple reasons they pray for the household of God at Colossae. Imagine how their faith was sustained, knowing Paul and Timothy were faithfully praying for them.
There is no shortage of reasons to pray. But, Paul gives us the greatest reason right there in the first chapter of Colossians as he recounts his prayers for that church. After he lists the specifics of their prayers, he gives the motivation for confidence to go to the Lord on the Colossians’ behalf. Here it is:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14)
That should be our motivation too. What a miracle! The God who has given us the greatest gift through His Son can be trusted to answer our prayers according to His sovereign will! All that’s left to do now is…get praying!
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” — 3 JOHN 2