****Disclaimer: This post is in by no means meant to be “judgmental” or “critical” of anyone…because I am as guilty as the next person. But when God convicts me of something and tells me to share it, I share it. No shame…all love here. End of story….****
This year, I decided to read through the Bible. Believe it or not, it’s the first time I’ve done so. I’ve read lots of it throughout my 50-something years, but never all through it intentionally…day by day.
This week, a passage crossed my path that convicted me to the BONE. The passage is from Matthew 5, within verses 33-37.
In the Message paraphrase, it is worded like this:
“…don’t say anything you don’t mean…You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true.”
Oh, my holy lordy. That hit me where it hurts. Especially as a pastor’s wife, it’s easy to slip into the “Christ-speak” that you know is “the thing to say.” Sad…but true.
Social media can be so very powerful…in the most positive of ways. But it can be dangerous, as well. We need to be so very careful. Just as we can “spout off” political statements or religious statements or our own opinions…so easily (because it’s a lot easier to say something in ‘type’ on a screen from our comfy chairs, than it is to say something out loud in front of other people)…it’s just as easy to “spout off” religious jargon…”church talk”, if you will…when maybe, actually, we don’t mean it at all…we MEAN to mean it…but we are wanting to seem as spiritual and “Christian” as the next person.
If that person were standing right in front of you, it would be no different. If they come to you and say something like, “I really need you to pray for me” and you say “I will pray”, you darn better pray.
Recently, there have been many friends and family members who truly need prayer support for something they’re legit going through or someone they love is legit going through…physical, relational, spiritual, vocational, emotional, etc…and I am quick to ‘comment’ and say “praying” or “I’m praying for you.”
But I’ll be totally honest and transparent…sometimes, I pray, but sometimes I DON’T. I know that may come as a surprise, but it’s true. But before you judge…chances are, it’s true for YOU, too. Isn’t it?
How many times have you commented on a Facebook or Instagram or whatever post that you would be praying…and then just keep scrolling and don’t pray one tiny single word for that person or their situation? I’ll be honest…I’ve done it. Some cute cat or baby video or some strange political situation or someone falling down stairs catches your eye in the next “scroll” and you don’t think of that person or his/her situation again.
Matthew warns against this. Be VERY CAREFUL not to pepper your “posts” with a religious “smoke screen” to make yourself look more spiritual or religious than you intend to be. Don’t comment “praying” unless you truly intend to “pray”.
A few verses later in Matthew 5 says, “When you manipulate words to get your own way, [or to make yourself look good] you go wrong.”
PLEASE…don’t manipulate your words to make yourself look better. In other words…DON’T say you are going to pray for someone if you don’t intend to pray for someone. And if you DO say you are going to pray for someone, PRAY FOR THAT SOMEONE AT THAT VERY MOMENT. It literally only takes a minute in the middle of whatever you’re doing. There is such power in prayer. And when prayer is done lovingly and intentionally and authentically, it can change circumstances and move mountains, people!!!
Sometimes I don’t think we take God’s Word seriously enough. It warns us against making “empty promises”…Jesus never did that. Neither should we. And of course, I know we are only human and sometimes things simply slip our earthly minds. But be very careful whenever you say, “I’ll pray for you”…if you say it, DO IT…don’t wait…and do it immediately. Their situation may very well depend on the prayers of those who say they will pray…and actually do it.