"Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord
by ceasing to pray for you..." - 1 Samuel 12:23
Most of the time when I think of sin, I think of something bad that I should NOT do like stealing, committing adultery, or murder. Often if I do not do much of anything, and if I can keep my mouth shut (big "if") I feel like I've avoided stepping into sin.
This verse (1 Samuel 12:23) jolts me into remembering that sin can also be what I neglect to do. And neglecting to pray for others is a SIN. Why is that?
Well, do you think parents who do not feed their children are sinning? I do. Do you think refusing to offer a kind word or gesture to one's spouse is a sin? I do. Do you think withholding a gift toward someone in need (when you have available resources) is a sin? I do.
And yet...the GREATEST action we can take, the MOST loving gesture we can make, the BIGGEST contribution we can make is to pray on behalf of those around us.
We are to pray for children and spouses. We are to pray for those we know who have great needs. We are to pray for our enemies. We are to pray for those who lead us.
Prayer is action. It is work. It takes time. Prayer is humbling. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot....but God can. Prayer is simple. It is pouring out our hearts to God, sometimes without words. Sometimes just sitting in His presence, saying nothing...just being there...because where else could we go.
To not pray is a sin. It denies those around us of our greatest possible gift. To not pray, means we do not care. To not pray, means we are proud, stupidly so. To not pray, means we think we have this figured out on our own. To not pray, is to say, "I don't need you, God." Stupid! And proud!
From this Friday noon (April 4) to Saturday noon (April 5), Soul Purpose Community Church is hosting 24 hours of consecutive prayer. We're asking people to sign up for one hour blocks, and just hang out with Jesus using the resources of a half-dozen or so prayer stations to trigger ways to pray and prayer requests. I urge you to join us.
There are no rules. You don't have to use the prayer stations, if they're not helpful for you. You do not have to pray out loud or do anything that isn't you. Sometimes I just like telling God briefly about my top impossible situation, and then just sit and listen to see if God tells me anything.
A few years ago, during an early prayer day, I begged God to help our church. We were barely scraping by financially, and desperately needed a building. Less than two years later, God provided a building absolutely free to us.
Another time, I prayed for a couple whose marriage was totally broken - divorce papers were already drawn up and awaiting signatures. God totally healed that marriage and is using this couple today to be a blessing to others.
I've got some other impossible situations on my heart this time. I've got no answers, no ideas for these situations. But...I know Somebody I can talk to. It would be a sin not to.
--Matt Gregory (Lead Pastor @ Soul Purpose Community Church)