Location: New England, United States

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pray for Me!

Last week, I called one of my sisters who had been going through a difficult time. I wanted to find out how she was doing and if she needed a sympathetic ear. She was unresponsive to my queries, and spoke only with brief, monotone answers. The call lasted less than five minutes and as I hung up the phone, I wondered if I had done anything to offend her.

As I pondered my feelings - a little rejected - a little angry - I realized that my first thought was for myself. Why was that, I wondered? Last week had been a very hectic week. My son was graduating from eighth grade with relative events nearly every night, my cat had been injured so trips to the vet were a priority, and I had classes to attend both for my employment and for my church. I was at a physical, emotional and spiritual low.

On Wednesday night, I informed my son that I needed to go to the Wednesday night service at our church. Although I was physically tired, my spiritual well demanded a healthy drink. I stood during the service singing song after song - still I was empty. I started to pray while the rest of the congregation continued to sing. "Please God - breathe on me. Please fill me with your Spirit." Nothing happened. "Come on! I need you to restore my soul." Nothing. Finally, screaming inside my head - "What's wrong?" Then God answered. "Worship me." Still, the dunce, I answered "What are you talking about?" "Stop worrying about yourself, sing the song and worship me." Now I "got" it. I said OK and as soon as I did - his Spirit rushed in. That night, I asked God to show me if I had offended my sister and what to do about it. His answer was brief and cryptic, "Call her back on Friday."

On Friday morning, I called my sister and she apologized for being "funny" during our last phone call. "That's OK." I said. "Sometimes we are in so much pain that we can't speak." She said, "Yes!" Then I thought - "I didn't know that." This is always a sign to me that God's spirit is in charge of my mouth. There are times when I am speaking to unbelievers about God or speaking with believers on a point in the Bible, and I will say something while thinking, "I didn't know that." If I didn't know it - then I know it is God.

My sister and I spoke that morning for two hours. She poured her heart out to me, but what profit did she get from that deluge? I promised to pray for her, and I did and will continue to pray, but what will she profit by my praying? Yes, I know that God will answer my prayer - but how will my praying about her problem help her relationship with God? It is about as effective as my sister visiting with my parents on my behalf. I cannot develop or maintain a relationship with my parents through my sister.

This is what God revealed to me tonight. Intercession is good - God wants us to intercede on behalf of others - but what God wants most of all is a relationship with the person who asked you to pray for them.

Since 900 A.D., the word pray has meant "to entreat or beg" - at times the English language is so inadequate when describing our relationship with God. Praying should encompass all communication with God. Perhaps we should use the word dialogue instead of prayer, because dialogue describes what God wants from us. He wants us to talk to him continually - not just with requests - but about everything! Just as we talk with our friends and family, we should speak with God the same way. The other part of dialogue is listening. We need to speak - then remain quiet and listen for God's answer. In order to foster a relationship with us, he needs to speak as well, but if we do all the talking - then we may miss his words to us - and his words may contain wisdom or an answer to a question. He may give you a word for another who has not been communicating with him on a consistent basis, or he may just want to let you know that he still loves you. I would not want to miss that.

So going back to my poor spirit last week - I had been so busy, I was not listening to God. The dialogue had broken down. Although I had spoken to him, I was so busy that I left my prayer time without giving him a chance to speak to me. I had shut him out.

The other lesson I learned from God - next time someone asks me to pray for them my answer will be, "I will pray for you, but God wants to hear from you, too."

I love you Father. Selah!


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