Last week, we examined the concept of how our prayers for the needy need to translate into doing something for them. This week we broaden our scope to look at a practical way that we can be engaged in prayer in the Community.
Praying for Our Community
There are a few different ways that we can become more aware of the needs in our community-at-large. One of the ways is through reading the paper and praying about an issue or a problem that strikes you. Just before Christmas, I read an article about how some Nova Vita apartments in my area had been burned by fire. The residents, women and children who were victims of Domestic Violence and were trying to build a new life for themselves, had lost many of their belongings and Christmas presents in the fire. For some reason, the article stuck with me. Yet, until this very moment, I didn’t think to pray for them, I just thought about them. Maybe God was prompting me to pray about it by bringing it to mind?
Another way we can engage in prayer in our community is through ‘prayer walks’. Prayer walking is simply walking around your neighbourhood, trying to see it through the eyes of Christ, and praying for the people and places in it. We could pray for our neighbours, for our relationships with them, for the children in the area and for ourselves to reflect Jesus to those around us. This may be an especially enjoyable way to walk and pray, to be alone with God, and to enjoy His presence and His creation.
When Joshua was given the leadership of the nation of Israel, the Lord told him “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites, I will give you every place where you set your food, as I promised Moses”. (Joshua 1:2-3) As they moved forward they claimed the promises of God and eventually entered the Promised Land
Last week, we connected to God through prayer for physical healing. This week we open our eyes to the needs of those around us.
Praying for the Needy
Do you ever walk past the man or woman sitting on the sidewalk hunched over begging for money and feel a conflict in your heart about what to do? Do you give some change and feel like you have done your ‘duty’? Do you not give money because they might spend it on drugs or alcohol? Do you give to the church or a charity and feel that you are ‘covered’ because there are organizations already caring for these people? Just by the nature of the fact that you are reading this blog online means that you are probably reasonably well off. The others are called the ‘marginalized’.
God is greatly concerned about the poor and the oppressed. God’s call is to justice, righteousness and compassion. As followers of Jesus, do we have compassionate hearts? Do we care about the poor? Do we seek justice for the marginalized? Do we pray for them and does our prayer lead to any action? It’s a cop out if we have time to sit in church every Sunday talking about ‘religion’ when we don’t find time to do anything about it. Consider the words of God in the Book of Amos:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5: 21-24)
I constantly need to remind myself of the words in James 1:27 “Religion that our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Religion doesn’t have anything to do with sitting in church week after week even though I sometimes convince myself that it does. There are lots of days that I don’t take the time to spend with even those around me that I know could use a helping hand. After I take a few moments to pray for them, I need to take a few moments to pray for myself to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.