Matthew 18:7-9 (NLT)
7 “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.”
James 5:13-15 (MSG)
13-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
1 John 4:17-18 (MSG)
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
Prayer and anti-prayer. Anti-prayer looks like temptation – the ways of the world, sin, self. “…Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.” What good is there in fighting God? Why do it? Sure, sin might get your rocks off for the moment, but then what? Life is a string of moments and that string has an end. Where does your string lead?
Temptations are tempting because they are just that – tempting. They look good, they get the heart going, they do all sorts of stuff in the now, but what about the consequences they carry forward?
I’ve taught my children – both daughters and son – that purity matters. I’ve asked them how much purity they want to take into their marriage and their life. I’ve used a visual example. “GROSS DAD”. I am the antithesis of the advice I’ve given my children and I know where the string of moments has led, I know the weight I carry because of those moments. I know a lot about what not to do in those moments and a wake of hurt behind me.
Prayer though…. Prayer is healing. Prayer is asking our God of love, the Great I Am, the Living Water, to come back to us and cleanse us. It happens over time as our hearts and minds are changed. Fear, hate, worry, shame all come into context through prayer and thoughtful meditation. The consequences of flowing with the temptations of the world come into context. The consequences of flowing with the love of God also come into context.
The choice becomes so much simpler when the two are lined up directly against each other and the fog of now clears away.
Prayer or anti-prayer?
P.S. There’s a lot of atheist propaganda against prayer and that’s a great starting point. Like all knowledge, if it’s not actionable, if you can’t use it, is it any good? Prayer brings knowledge. Prayer brings healing. Prayer brings understanding. Prayer brings peace. And you have to use those things.