We have a lot of hurting people at our church. Maybe that describes you as you’re reading this. Loved ones have passed away, people are struggling with physical issues, marriages are failing, people are losing jobs, people are facing difficulties in the workplace and in their schools. We are a needy people.
Whenever I hear of some of these situations, the first thing I want to do is to do something that can help or encourage. I will send notes or emails to people asking them if they need something or if there’s anything I can do. There are times when they will share a specific tangible need that I can help meet. However, the majority of the time, I will get this response: “just pray”.
If you’re like me and you want to solve an issue or meet a need, however large or small, being asked to “just pray” isn’t always what you want to hear. Unfortunately, what then happens is I neglect to do the one thing I can do and was even asked to do.
Why does this happen?
As I look at my life and look at the times in which this happens to me, I see two reasons that affect why I fail to pray for others.
1. Being Seen
Unfortunately there are times when I recognize that in my desire to help others, I want to be seen and “get credit” for what I do. The majority of the time, prayer is done in private. Nobody sees me. It’s just God and me. The pride in me wants to do something that is seen by others, so prayer sometimes isn’t overly appealing. I hate that there are times where that is my motivation. This is not how Jesus encourages us to serve others.
“‘Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’” (Matthew 6:2-4)
I daily pray and ask God to change my heart and help me to say no to my sinful motives so that I can serve others expecting nothing in return, even recognition.
2. Lack of Faith/Doubt
Too many times I fail to pray for someone or something because I lack faith and doubt that God will answer. If I can do something tangible for someone, I can be in control of that and “be sure that it gets done”. When there is nothing I can do but pray, it requires me to release any control or will I have to meet a need. The funny thing is, a lot of times, these are needs that I cannot meet anyway. There is really only One who can. A passage that I am constantly reminded of in these instances is found in James 1.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
When I lack faith and doubt God in my prayers, this is how I’m described: “a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind…a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways”. Not sure about you, but I don’t want my life to be described in this way. I need to pray for others and pray with faith. It doesn’t necessarily mean that God will always do exactly what I ask Him to do. But praying with faith means that I believe and am confident that God is more than capable of doing it. And when I pray, I release and entrust the situation to Him.
People we know are hurting and in need. If the only thing they ask from us is to pray for them, don’t be discouraged. Sometimes the only thing we can do to truly help them is to pray for them. Let’s not brush off this incredible opportunity to serve others in this way. Would you join me in making it a point to lift up those in need in prayer to our sovereign heavenly Father? Let’s serve others by praying for them in faith!