Friday, March 8, 2013

Should we help others pray "wrong" prayers?

Do we pray for people if we feel their prayer is not the best prayer for them? It is not an easy question to answer. Let's have an example which is purely fictitious and serves only as an illustration.

Say you have a friend, Sam, who is a drug addict. He has used all his money to buy drugs. As a result, his two young children and wife suffer as they have no money for food. They also could not go the doctor when they are sick. Before Sam is addicted to drugs he was pretty well to do. But even then he has always used all his money on himself while his family gets second best. If he has $10 in his pocket he will rather spend it on himself first rather than buy a present for his children or wife. Now that he is addicted to drugs, you know if he has any money, he will not be spending it to bless his family. Now Sam comes to you for prayers. He wants God to bless Him with more than enough money all the time. He has no intention to quit drugs. But you feel you should pray for him to be cured of his addiction and also be given God's wisdom. You also would like to pray for his wife and children. You think having more money without more wisdom with hurt him more than help him. To Sam, he is just looking for a Christian friend to agree with him to get more money from God. He is not listening to your counsel. Sam thinks he knows best.

Now, do you pray with him to get him what he wants from God? What would you do? I came across a case some time back. Not the same as the fictitious case I created above. But a similar situation where a brother wanted me to pray for something which I feel isn't the most important. I strongly felt he needed a lot of other things that are more critical but he does not see it that way nor is he open to counsel. It is a situation of either I pray for him according to how he wants it or nothing at all. At that moment I chose to attempt to counsel him. I tried to explain to him what he really needs. It ended up with him feeling hurt and angry and he left without being prayed for.

For a while I thought I did the right thing. But later I believe God did reveal to me gently that I could have done it better. So I was wrong. And I want share with you so that you won't make the same mistake as me.

In the course of Jesus' walk on earth there are times when people tried to stop others from coming to Jesus. There were two blind men in the bible who cried out to Jesus whom the crowds rebuked (ref 1). And there was an occasion (ref 2) where parents wanted to bring their children to be touched by Jesus. They probably wanted their children to be blessed. But Jesus' own disciples rebuked the adults. There is also this Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4 (ref 3) whose son has died and she came to Elisha and caught hold of Elisha's feet and Elisha's servant wanted to push her away. Elisha, being a prophet, represents God.

In all these cases, the people around are the ones that felt the requests made are inappropriate or the approach to God is wrong. There is no record God felt offended at all. In fact in ref 1 Jesus stopped, had compassion on the blinds and gave them instant healing. In ref 2, Jesus became angry (the Greek word for indignant also means angry) at the disciples and commanded them not to forbid the young ones from coming to Him. Where else in the gospels is it mentioned explicitly that Jesus became angry? As such this incident cannot be taken lightly. And the Lord not only acceded to the requests of the parents to bless the children, He also took the children in His arms, thus exceeding their requests. In ref 3, Elisha, representing God, also stopped his servant from pushing the the woman away from His feet. And Elisha was in a haste to save the woman's son. If Elisha represents God, then his feet is also God's feet - the correct place to be to receive from God. 

Before you see a doctor the nurse will take your temperature and assess you case and then decide how you will see the doctor. In a company, the secretary decides who meets the boss. In the Kingdom of God, I believe there is no role for us to qualify who can and should come to God. Everyone can come to God as they are. More so believers who has been qualified by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-20). And it is also not our place to decide for others what is a wrong prayer. I think the scripture is clear about that. I believe there is no wrong prayer with God because He is the One who answers. He is not bound by our prayers. Nothing is too hard for Him. 

I had good intentions for my friend.  But sometimes our best intentions do not bear witness with God. Thank God He is merciful and even when we have made a mistake, God still sees us righteous in Him and we can move on and continue to put in our best. Subsequently, God changed my friend's mind and he looked for me to reconcile. I jumped at the chance, prayed for him and we are back on good terms now. Thank God. I also learnt that prayer comes before counsel. Try to pray for your friend first. From there they could be more open to counsel. My friend is still not opened to counsel though, but in that case just pray for them. We are called to bear with one another, love one another and be long suffering (Ephesians 4:1-3).

God is our blessing.

Shalom.


References:
1) As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him. (Matthew 20:29-34, NASB)

2) They were bringing to him little children, that he should touch them, but the disciples rebuked those who were bringing them. But when Jesus saw it, he was moved with indignation, and said to them, "Allow the little children to come to me! Don't forbid them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Most certainly I tell you, whoever will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it." He took them in his arms, and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10:13-16, WEB)

3)  When she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi came near to thrust her away; but the man of God said, "Leave her alone; for her soul is troubled within her; and Yahweh has hidden it from me, and has not told me." (2 Kings 4:27, WEB)





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