Thursday, June 30, 2016

Power of Complaining vs. Power of Prayer

We certainly have a lot to gripe, moan and complain about, don’t we? Whether of the liberal or conservative persuasion politically, or somewhere in between, we all can find ample causes for grousing about how things are going in our country today.

Looking at social media, we find ourselves awash in criticism of the President, senators and representatives in Congress, so-called “presumptive” Presidential candidates, and the various wannabes. If we can’t say something bad about someone, then don’t say anything at all!

I confess to often being tempted to add my own two cents to the “discussion.” But in all honesty, do we really “discuss” on social media, with minds already firmly made up and a goal only to find others to reinforce our prejudices? Civil debate and dialogue seem anathema to contemporary discourse.

Realizing this, I’ve begun to wonder what good I’m accomplishing when I choose to “Like” a derogatory comment I agree with about a particular individual or group of people. As someone has wisely observed, if you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.

So what are we to do? We could all produce a laundry list of complaints, issues well-deserving of our self-indulgent mumbling and grumbling. But what if we did something different? Something, dare I use the word, radical? What if we chose instead to channel the energy we use for complaining into . . . praying?

What if we did something radical - like praying?
What if, every time we saw a critical or derogatory post on Facebook, Twitter or other social media about Obama, Hillary, Trump, Sanders or some other public figure, rather than nodding in agreement, clicking "Like," adding comments, or hitting "Share" – so everyone else knows our views – we decided instead to pause and pray for those individuals?

I suspect none of our elite leaders and would-be leaders cares one whit about what I think, and they’re not losing a wink of sleep over whether I support their policies and platforms. But what if I invested my energy in praying for God to work miraculously in their hearts and lives, as well as our nation? And perhaps, in my own heart, too?

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, the apostle Paul exhorted, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Are we not enjoying peaceful and quiet lives these days? Maybe it’s because we’re not praying and interceding as God has instructed.

Perhaps someone is thinking, “Yeah, but those people don’t represent what I believe – or what I think God expects of us!” I hear that “yeah, but.” However, here is what Jesus said about that: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Doesn’t that make you want to say, “Aw, come on now, Jesus. Really? Seriously?”

I know a man who a few decades ago declared that he prayed daily for the leaders of the U.S.S.R., long before the Iron Curtain fell and the Communist powerhouse splintered into a number of independent countries. Did that occur because of my friend’s prayers? Probably not – but his prayers were in fact answered.

Do we believe in the power of prayer? Do you believe in the power of prayer? The Bible speaks effusively about prayer – its power, its importance, its urgency. One of the first verses I learned tells us to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

By comparison, the Scriptures say very little about grumbling and complaining. In the Old Testament we do see the ancient Israelites doing a lot of that, but all it accomplished was getting them into trouble.

What the Bible does command is this: Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15). Seems like it’s saying the less complaining we do, the brighter the light of Christ can shine through us.

It’s often said, “When all else fails, pray.” Will praying – instead of moaning and groaning, mumbling and grumbling – make a difference? God’s Word says it will.

It seems the polarizing posts on our various social media sites have done little more than provide an opportunity to let off steam. The Beatles used to sing, “Give peace a chance.” What if we got serious and earnestly decided to give prayer a chance? It could make a difference far beyond our wildest dreams.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

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