Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whispering Obscurities

In church on Sunday, my pastor spoke about asking friends and acquaintances - even unsaved ones - if we could pray for anything for them. The point was to be the Christmas messenger those around us need. I found myself thinking that praying like this is dangerous. What if God says no to the prayer? Then an unsaved friend has all that much more reason to not believe. However, this morning, I was forced to consider these verses:

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)

"I am the Lord," he says, "and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. [...] For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me. Let all the world look to me for salvation!" (Isaiah 45:18b-19a, 21b-22, NLT)

If we're praying about everything, that would include the needs of our unsaved friends, right? After all, if Jesus Christ is truly the only God, he is the only hope for all the people of the world, including our unsaved friends. And if we're not worrying about anything, we cannot worry about how God will answer the prayers we made on behalf of our friends. So forget trying to go halfway and "whispering obscurities" by praying convoluted, inexact prayers for our friends. Instead, tell God specifically what your friend needs and let both him and your friend know that you believe God when he says he can be found, he is Savior and he loves us.

God knows who he is. If he went to the trouble of spelling out who he is - a righteous God and Savior - then he's in the business of protecting his own reputation, so let's not be afraid of whether or not the answers to our prayers will bring our friends to Christ. I'm not saying to make bold promises God hasn't made - like that everything will turn out just the way your friend wants - but remember that God has promised to answer those who seek him and that he has plans for all of our lives. He may so no to the prayer, but maybe the witness to our friends is not so much how the prayer is answered but that glimpse into our relationship with the God we serve.

So, let's approach God and ask him to work in the lives of our friends to fill them with real joy and peace. Let's pray with our friends for the things they need like money and healing, let's ask that God will bring glory to his name through his answers, and leave whatever those answers might be to God.

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