I have yet to say it out loud to someone, but I always think to myself when someone asks me to pray for something, “Are you sure you want me to pray for you?” This is because the way I will pray for you may not exactly line up with how you want to be prayed for.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be writing about the way to pray for people, from what I’ve learned from the bible. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be truthful. Just like prayer.
. That you will be humbled and made low.
I’m not vindictive. At least, I have never been accused of being so. I actually really want the best for everyone, even those who might, to some people, be considered “enemies” for whatever reason. I truly do pray that good things will happen. But what I’ve come to believe is that the best thing for anyone is to become more humble.
Humility seems counterintuitive and it certainly smacks against our culture’s self-esteem/ego-centric psychology of today. But we can’t get far into the Christian walk without addressing humility. The very recognition of our need for Jesus is based on our willingness to admit we are lowly and sinful, and that’s humbling.
As we continue on our walk, we begin to see just how very much we need grace and truth in our hearts and minds. We cannot help but see how needy we truly are. Without admitting we are needy, we will never truly receive grace. Without grace… well, it will be so much worse than whatever it is that you’re asking me to pray about.
. That you will be miserable in sin.
I was once told by a loving aunt that she prayed for me to be miserable in sin, when I was “living in sin” far from God. More about that phrase in a minute, but what she was saying is that we can be lulled into a false comfort zone when we are doing things that we know are sinful. We decide for ourselves that it’s better for us or that there are no alternatives. Or we completely ignore the sin, or, worse, stop seeing it as sinful at all and rationalize away our choices.
Truth is that we are all living in sin. But some have chosen to be citizens of repentance. When we repent, when we recognize how we are “prone to wander,” “prone to leave our God above,” we rise above the climate of sin and enter a new realm, clearer, more beautiful, where redemption is at work and evident.
I’ve been praying for a friend lately, someone who is knowingly, purposefully, rationalizing sinful living and making choices that are not in her best interest, by anyone’s standards, let alone God’s. I pray that she will be miserable fast. Sounds awful, right? Shouldn’t I pray that things will work out and that she will be happy? I mean if I really loved her, all I want is for her to be happy, right?
Could not be more wrong. This is where our beliefs must differ from the world’s. Sin is a fog. My husband used that in a sermon once and it really stuck with me. The FOG OF SIN is thick and consuming. It is the worst of pollution, getting in your nose and ears and eyes and mind and blood. My husband has also reminded me in the past that all smells are particulate, meaning if you smell it, it’s in your mouth and such. Ugh ugh ugh. So gross.
This is sin. It invades us and disrupts even the physical realm of our lives. Why would I pray that my friend can just ignore the thick stench of her sin, just so she can be happy? Why would I want her to continue on a road of choices that I know, I know, I know will lead her so far from truth and goodness and peace? I’ve walked that road, Neo. I know where it goes and I know that’s not what she really needs, or wants, even when she doesn’t know it herself. Sin is a misery and a fog. I wish that on no one. Unrepented sin is a prison, that may start out seeming like a luxury hotel, but becomes a torture chamber.
There is a way out. And I pray you see it sooner than later. Praying for you to be miserable while sinning is a gift of grace. Doesn’t seem like it, but it truly is. I know too well the heartache and deep wounds of sin and pride. It gets under your skin and permeates your soul, whether you admit it or not is an inverse relationship. The less you admit it, the worse off you are. And you can only go for so long before you realize just how bad off you are. If I truly love you, I don’t want that for you. I want to see signs early. I want you to see repentance as the beautiful gift it was made to be, to give you real freedom and joy, fullness of joy, lasting longer than all the happy in the world.
Have you ever gotten a gift that you weren’t all that excited about at the time, but now you use it all the time? Maybe it was something really practical, and you wanted something fun. Or maybe it pointed out something you didn’t want to be reminded of. Prayer can be like that. It may not be what you started out with or what you think you need or want. But it will always be what you need, and when you’re doing it right, praying for the right things, seeking God’s face and His kingdom come on earth, it will also end up exactly what you want. Your desires will change. Your mind will become clearer. Your heart will find true peace. This is the work of prayer.
(image from Crosswalk.com)