bits from bob....

Embarrassed by Our Prayers

by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

John Stott makes an interesting observation on public prayer in his commentary on 1 Timothy. I have often quoted his statement, it makes me think about our public prayers.

Christians must think more clearly about compassion, praying, and evangelism. We must reestablish in our minds and lives the connection between compassion, prayer, and evangelism. We do not pray because we are not compassionate and we do not evangelize because we do not pray.

God cares about a world bigger than we can see. I can talk about the lost, I can encourage love for humanity, but it doesn't really matter much until I understand that God loves and cares about every person in this world. Around me everywhere are real people with real problems. We will never learn to pray in the heart of God until we learn compassion. Compassion precedes fervent prayer for the hurts of our world. Compassion changes us. Compassion changes our world through our seeking and helping. Authentic compassion is personal, not merely corporate. It is not enough to say, "My church helps those in need." We must personally feel compassion, so we will pray and so we will share the gospel, personally.

Are you ever embarrassed by your prayers? Ever embarrassed by the public prayers in our assemblies? Do we pray only for ourselves? People with real names--people we know--are in hospitals, nursing homes, are shut-in at home. Name them. Pray for them by name. "I pray for those whose love for you has grown cold...." You know at least one or two, do you not? Pray by name. Seek them. Pray for a world bigger than this church, this community, this county, this state, or this nation. Pray for God's world, the world he loves and wants to save. Authentic prayer is personal. Genuine compassion begets prayer.

Authentic evangelism is driven by the powerful combination of compassion and prayer. Evangelism is not a spiritual mugging, a seasonal blitz, a program, or a cross-cultural challenge. Evangelism is deliberate. How can I help connect the life story of someone who is not a child of God with the story of God's love demonstrated in Jesus? How can I encourage and help and support the task of bringing to Jesus as many as possible in as many places as possible in as many ways as possible. Authentic evangelism challenges my personal integrity. It demands my spiritual awareness, a soul alertness, and a willingness to put in a good word for Jesus. Genuine evangelism is personal evangelism.

Charlie Brown claimed, "I love the world." In the next frame was his exception, "It's the people I can't stand." May God give us a singular spirit of compassion, prayer, and evangelism. We share the good news because of our prayerful relationship to God and because of our compassionate relationship to our world.

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Last updated November 4, 2003.