In a society that appears to have everything, how do we learn to pray in light of the suffering of others? Where is the urgency for real devotion in a place saturated with stuff that seems to meet all our needs?
When we have food that satisfies, not only our hunger but our appetites, what need do we have to pray for our daily bread? When clothing abounds, do we need to rely on God for what we will wear? No, typically we rely on our money and the stores which provide the clothing.
Many people would call us blessed, but I think it's closer to spoiled. Because the blessings can blind us to the needy. It can ruin our vision and hinder us from looking outside ourselves.
Did you know that Jesus commanded us to care for the poor? It isn't optional.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me...Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:35
Why am I writing about the poor in a post about prayer?
Because the poor are desperate for our prayers. And being devoted to God means being devoted to the things He cares about.
Prayer isn't simply a laundry list of things we "need" from God. It's a powerful way to communicate with God and hear from Him. It's a sacrificial way to stand in the gap for someone else and ask God to care for them and make Himself known to them. Even those we don't know or have never met.
We need to recognize our own depravity without Christ and cling to Him as if our life depended on it...because it does.
The first step to having a disciplined prayer life is to step outside yourself and see the needs of others. Not necessarily for new cars or homes, but new life in Christ. Even basic needs such as food and water.
Does God care about the tools in life that helps us live? Yes. Absolutely. But that's not all He cares about. In fact, He warned us not to worry about those things. He said He would take care of them because He knows what we need. This frees us up from worry and allows us to focus our energies on something more productive.
What burdens do you carry? Prayer is the time to lay them down so God can handle them. Do not carry the weight on your shoulders when it's not yours to carry.
Next week I will share some more specifics on a devoted prayer life.
Resources for further reading
Read the Spiritual Disciplines series here.
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