With the latest financial realities of Ecclesia and the very real potential in missing this next paycheck as well, I have at least one question about prayer. But before I get to the question I want to share the four types of responses I have received in this time of need. 1) I/We will be praying for you. 2) The offer of meals, or some other very practical, helpful offer of assistance. 3) A monetary gift. 4) Silence. This leaves me feeling, both, IMMENSE GRATITUDE for the active participation of some and also a new frustration. The silence I actually understand, but for those who land in interaction number one, I must ask:
Praying for what?
I am asking very sincerely, because my mind goes to a couple of places, which I will get to momentarily. I have specifically come to you, have shared my personal circumstances, and you are going to pray. So I must ask, pray for what? I understand this sounds sharp, that is not the intent, but I am reaching for clarity and a bit of a challenge.
If the prayer is for my family's needs to be met, then some clarity is needed. The fact I have shared our story means that we are aware there is a need, as is God. So praying for our needs to be met takes me to these conclusions.
First, the prayer is that God will meet our needs, which He has chosen to do through his body, the church. So you are aware of the need, acknowledged that you are concerned, and have asked God to provide? With zero sarcasm I ask, does it fall from the sky? Or are we asking that SOMEONE ELSE be the provider? Where does the buck stop, so to speak? At some point, someone has to stop uttering prayers and possibly be open to being the answer to prayer, correct? Because not only has my family been praying for some time, but our entire Ecclesia family has been as well, so when does the body take a physical shape?
This tension has led me to examine the way in which I interact with people in need, and to consider how I offer and give prayer. What exactly am I praying for? Is the need before me something I can help relieve? Maybe not completely, but can I participate in alleviating this person's need?
Mercy (Eleos): Compassion for those who are afflicted AND an active desire to relieve their affliction. Compassion plus action.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus answers an expert in the law's question about how to inherit eternal life with a story. We know it as the Good Samaritan. This is where a neighbor is defined and at the end of the story Jesus asks, "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to this man?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."