Communication is hard. Even among friends and family, we often say things that get misunderstood. Education and intelligence will not prevent moments of misrepresentation and faulty interpretation. He said, she said, he said, and no one can be sure what it all means.
If we have a hard time communicating with each other, even with those who know us best sometimes, it comes as no surprise that we often don’t know the right words to say when we pray.
We struggle with what we should pray for. Should we pray for what we want and believe that God wants us to receive benefits and blessings? Should we always just pray “Thy will be done,” like Jesus in Gethsemane and accept stoically whatever God sends our way? The answer is yes and yes.
The Bible encourages us to pray for good things that we want to see happen. I don’t mean we should pray for things as if God were a cosmic lottery ticket. But we are encouraged to pray for good things like health and the meeting of our needs and God’s blessing on others in need.
At the same time, we are encouraged to recognize that what we want is not always what is best. With humility, we ask for what we want but we also recognize that God knows more and has a perfect plan.
Pray boldly for what you want and accept graciously what you are given. We cannot begin to understand what is really going on when we pray. It is a radical act of faith to believe that God is listening and responding to His creatures. But Jesus told us repeatedly that God not only hears us, but that He really cares about us and our struggles.
So the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane is a model of the perfect prayer in our most difficult and uncertain times: God, if you will, do this for me, but not my will, I really want Your will to be done.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC
The world is full of darkness. Everywhere we turn, people are living in fear and full of anger. It’s not surprising that people are looking for scapegoats. People feel better when they have someone they can blame for the nagging fear and frustration.
While these frustrations are understandable, Jesus calls us away from the status quo, the temptation to add to the darkness with our own darkness. We can be people of light and love, because we serve a God who is light and love.
I do not mean that we should pretend that there is no darkness. Evil is real. Some modern religious and spiritual ideologies try to combat the darkness by pretending it is not real. Christian faith does not run from reality. Jesus gives us real tools to bring light into the real darkness of this world.
How do we turn on the light of God in our own lives and shine it in the world? First, let God calm your heart in prayer. Much of the world is living in panic mode. Inner peace comes from regular visits with the Lord.
Second, live with an eye on the eternal. The darkness is temporary. It can seem overwhelmingly present, but it will not always be so. Trust in God’s promise that eternity is real.
Third, never forget you are loved and forgiven. Always be grateful. Carry so much thanksgiving in your heart that there is no room for bitterness.
Fourth, share. Share your joys and your burdens in a community of friends who love you. Share your thanksgiving with the bitter and burdened world. Share the good news that the light is not exclusive. God loves and cares for everyone.
Jesus lived on this earth with the power and calm of a man who was convinced of God’s power and love. He promised to send His Spirit to give us that power too. We carry the light of Jesus into our little corner of the world and there is that much less darkness.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church Siler City, NC