My mother says this to me often. She and I are not of the same religion. Still I am grateful when I think of my name on their altar, where she and her group of friends, some who don’t even know me, bow their heads and plead for my cause.
My friend’s daughter, a Wiccan, says she hopes the Gods smile down on me and that she will send me good energy. I have only one God but I know He loves her enough to hear her plea for energy in my behalf.
My Catholic friend says she will light a candle for me. My son-in-law says, “Insha’Allah, If God wills it,” and then gets on his knees for me at his mosque. My Pentecostal friend says she will pray over me. My aunt says she will ask the elders of her church to lay their hands on me. I am touched by their concern despite the fact that I don’t practice my faith in the same way. My neighbor, who is agnostic simply says, “I’ll be thinking of you.” I’ll take that too.
Whether these people believe in the same God I do, or not, is beside the point. My God believes in them. It doesn’t matter if He is exactly who they think He is because the God I love cares for the compassionate requests of all of His children. And when they raise their voices to Him, in whatever religious place, ceremony, ritual or language they use, I know that His translation skills are universal. His is the ear of a patient father, who feels the worth of our reaching and hears the language of our hearts.
All prayer, all concentrated love and concern for others, counts in heaven.
Romans 8:26 ESV
More from the Bible about Praying for Each Other
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”
1 Timothy 2:8 ESV
“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19 ESV
“Therefore…pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
James 5:16 ESV
I am often reminded, in my stupor of personal wallowing, that the fact that I have plans for my future is of no consequence to God. It’s not that He doesn’t let us choose our future, it’s that He is, after all, a Father.
When my college-age daughter comes to me with a plan that I believe will ultimately not be good for her I have two choices; I can support her decision-making process (even while telling her how I feel) or I can tell her I know better than she does and that she will do it my way or not at all. I’m sure you can imagine that I would like to do the latter most of the time!
And yet our relationship has been steadily built on the premise that she is an individual and, as such, may want to do things differently than I would do it. Truth be told she has made some very good decisions and I’ve been proud of her. However, for the most part, I know her potential, her weaknesses and her strengths and I know what she should probably be doing so I could save her a lot of time and effort by just insisting on my course.
Here’s the glitch though. She may end up in the same place I would’ve sent her but if she doesn’t make it there on her own she will have missed the opportunity to grow in that area. What could be the most important thing she does can quickly turn into the thing she resents because it wasn’t her idea in the first place.
I think God is that parent when we try to make our own plans. He listens, He nods, He celebrates our willingness to think for ourselves and try new things, He laughs with us and cries with us when it doesn’t go as planned and He could say, “I told you so” but He never does. He actually knows us better than we can ever imagine, what we’re here for and what is best for us and yet He allows us to come to that conclusion all by ourselves.
Dee Shihady © 05/09/16
A little girl visited my daughter a few nights ago. They’re best friends. She claims to be an atheist but I’m confused about how anyone younger than sixteen knows if there is a God or not for sure. I remember when I was that age and thought I knew though. It must be possible to have that strong of a feeling to the contrary.
We spent the evening together having a rare teen-adult connection during conversation where she blurted out that her parents were not very kind to her. She recounted some stories that made me hurt for her and, even if only remembered wrongly, I still recognized as life-shaping. This is a girl, I kept thinking, that will turn into a woman who questions everything about the relationships she is in. She will wonder if, when he says he loves her, if he really does. She will second-guess her best friends (as she already does) and she will wonder if there is anyone who finds worth in her, even as she painstakingly dresses for another date or business meeting.
And this is a girl who can’t believe in God. She could never believe in a Father in Heaven who loves her because she doesn’t even believe that her parents do.
I have thought about this for days. I mull it over as one of the strangest but truest thoughts I’ve had in a while. The question seems so obvious to me and yet so vague: Does our relationship and belief in a Heavenly Father have anything to do with our dysfunctional or trusting relationships with our own earthly parents? And, regardless of whether or not those perceptions of our relationships are actually true or not, did it shape the way we formed our bond with God?
Does the man who spends his childhood with a father who is never home believe there is a God but that He doesn’t really participate in the daily lives of his children? Does the woman who spent her childhood lost in the sea of children of a large family grow up to think that God loves her but never notices the things she does? Does the child who is criticized often believe that they will never be good enough to go to heaven?
I’m starting to think a lot about my own parents these days and my perception of them.
A dream fulfilled.
An unspoken reminder that we are not the masters
that make all possible,
but only the pupil.
How we dread the feelings that it “sounds to good to be true”.
Oh, please – let it be true!
inside my always-questioning soul I reach for you
and ask that you will forgive me…
my ever-doubting heart.
You are who you are.
Before he died Jesus said that if he didn’t go away then “the advocate will not come..but if I go I will send him…” (John 16:7). Did that mean there was some sort of process that had stages to it? Like first, send a teacher (Let them understand Me better). Second, create a Savior (…for them to believe in and gain life). Third, resurrect him and bring him home again (Let’s show it can and will be done). Fourth, send the Spirit (…to prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment – John 16:8).
Sounds like a plan to me.
Then does that mean that by being here with us Jesus had to finish the steps in order for God to set up the process? Can you even imagine trying to set that up? Let’s see, I’ll send someone who is strong enough to be as perfect as man can be, as sinless, as loving, as kind, and as ready to love all my other children as I am myself…to represent me on earth. Jesus did say if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father so that makes sense. Then God had to think that when the relationship is formed, with disciples and believers and others taught to share what had been taught, then this man will also have to be willing to pay the price for sin (as I would’ve done myself for them) and be resurrected after death.
Doesn’t that make you humble that someone was up to that task? Doesn’t it awe you a little that someone could so accurately represent God himself? Doesn’t it amaze you that Jesus did such a good job at this that we can still feel that love today even when he is not physically with us? We feel that love that God has for us (and was able to send through a representative) during the most interesting moments; a prayer, or an insight, or by serving each other. Isn’t it incredible that Jesus was able to pull that off so well?
I used to resent that Christians would say that Jesus was the only way to God. I don’t want to think that I can’t just go to God directly. I resented the thought that there’s some door between us I have to go through first. But what if Jesus isn’t the door between us and our relationship with God at all but the key to open it? What if Jesus isn’t standing in the way at all but opening up all the doors, one after the other, until we have a straight shot to God?
Now that’s amazing.
Prayer seems to be a lot like talking to your dad
about something you both know you want.
He already knows whether he’s going to buy it for you or not
but if you don’t say “please” you look rather smug and ungrateful
and if you don’t ask at all
it looks like you’re either assuming
or you really don’t care whether he gets it for you or not.