Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014 “Prayer Pledges and Smoke Screens”

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” (Matthew 5: 33-37)

Good Monday Morning Prayer Partners!

With the advent of the internet and social media sites such as Facebook, I have discovered that there are many more public requests for support for those facing difficult and challenging situations in their lives. Quite often, supportive, well-meaning friends will respond by posting a pledge of prayer. While it is most certainly encouraging and supportive to assure someone of your intention to pray for them, I also understand from my own life how casually such a pledge is often made. I could not begin to count the times in the past when I have said to someone facing some sort of dilemma, “I’ll be praying for you”, only to discover with the passing of time and the circumstances of new days and new challenges, those prayer pledges are forgotten…not intentionally, but most certainly. In today’s passage from Matthew, Jesus makes it clear that these promises, no matter how well intentioned they may be, amount to little more that a “smoke screen of pious talk” when we don’t actually do what we say we’re going to do.  Better, Jesus says, to just say “Yes” or “No” than to make a prayer promise that remains unfulfilled. How do we avoid this pitfall? I have found the best way to do this is to pray immediately…to stop whatever else you may happen to be doing when such a prayer request comes and pray with or for that individual. If you happen to be speaking directly to them, offer to pray right then and there. If someone has posted a prayer request on Facebook or some such other site, stop whatever else you are doing and lift up a prayer for them right away.  Oswald Chambers put it like this:

“Never say you will pray about a thing; pray about it.” 

Saying is not the same as doing.  A prayer promise is not the same as an actual prayer. There is no need tarry when it comes to prayer. We don’t have to make an appointment weeks ahead of time to come before the Throne of Grace. The door is always open. Take Jesus’ advice. Don’t say anything you don’t mean. Just pray! Let’s pray!

Heavenly Father; just as there is no delay by the Holy Spirit’s interceding on our behalf before Your throne of grace, may our prayers also be immediately forthcoming. teach us to pray continually, to keep our prayer promises, knowing that the door is always open for us to do so. Thank you for that promise, Lord. Thank You for the opportunity to pray. Amen!

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