We need to stop using prayer as a way to get out of helping others. It ticks God off to see able Christians hear or see a need and only offer prayer when they can do more. Now don’t misread or read more into what I’m saying here – I am in no way denouncing prayer, or saying that prayer doesn’t work – absolutely NOT! When something happens prayer is the FIRST thing believers should do – because prayer is our direct line to God and He is all and knows all, therefore His wisdom is warranted in all situations, especially those tough ones.
Ephesians 6:18 – And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Prayer is important, it is first and foremost (along with studying His Word) in your walk with Christ; but the service of love is equally important, in fact when you love others, you keep the entire law according to Christ:
Galatians 5:14 – For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So what is loving a neighbor as yourself? Well think of what you’d do for yourself – if you were hungry you’d want to be fed. If you couldn’t feed yourself and had the courage to confide in someone in hopes of help, you certainly wouldn’t want them to only offer prayer when they could also offer a meal or bless you with a grocery card! Sadly, this is what many Christians do these days. I can’t tell you how many times I personally have seen a need and said “Oh that’s so sad, I’ll pray for you” when I could help! It wasn’t until God placed me in a situation and opened my eyes to see how much it hurts Him, His kingdom and the persons in need when we fail to help those in need as we are called.
James 2:14 – 17 -“What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but has no actions to prove it? Is such “faith” able to save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food, and someone says to him, “Shalom! Keep warm and eat hearty!” without giving him what he needs, what good does it do? Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.”
Deuteronomy 15:7- “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.”
Thankfully, His Holy Spirit convicted me on this one day as someone confided in me they needed something and I went into my typical, Oh I’ll pray for you and be encouraged in the Lord, yada yada speech when I heard the Lord ask “Why can’t you do it?”. I had no answer, every answer I prepared sounded so selfish – well God, I was going to buy me something (I wanted but didn’t need)….I was going to go to this restaurant (when I had a ton of food at home)…well I wanted to use that money to go to this concert (a secular one at that!)…or I just don’t want to, what if something come up and I need this (which is not trusting God and just an excuse to be selfish, it’s not like it was a life’s savings).
Eventually, I realized it was just better to honor God by blessing someone in need, because you know what – blessing someone in need is the PERFECT opportunity to show the goodness, grace, mercy and love of God! More important, if the one receiving does not know God, their hearts might be softened towards Him that they may receive Christ’s salvation and come to know God for themselves! If the one receiving is already a believer, then your help becomes a reminder of God’s provision and faithfulness, reminding them that He hears their prayers, sees their needs, and He is working on their behalf – this refreshes the spirit and reinvigorates our faith in our Father, the Most High, El Elyon!
Since that time, I’ve found so much joy in blessing those in need. If I hear a need and I have the means I pray for them, but I also help them with what I can. This is why God blesses His children – that we might be a blessing to others!
2 Corinthians 9: 6-15: “Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot… God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. It is written, “They have spread their gifts around to poor people. Their good works continue forever.” (Psalm 112:9).
God supplies seed to the planter…God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed…the results of your good works. You will be made rich in every way. Then you can always give freely. We will take your many gifts to the people who need them. And they will give thanks to God. Your gifts meet the needs of God’s people. And that’s not all. Your gifts also cause many people to thank God…So people will praise God because you obey him…They will also praise God because you share freely with them and with everyone else. Their hearts will be filled with longing for you when they pray for you. God has given you grace that is better than anything.”
Do understand, as with all things, God will not force you (2 Corinthians 9:7). He desires a willing spirit, someone who wants to give – not someone who is giving out of compulsion or with ulterior motives (i.e. if I bless this person, maybe God will do this). Yet, it is important to understand: those who don’t give, those who give out of force, and those who give just so they can get will not reap the same harvest as those who give out of love for God and love for his fellow man – this type of giving glorifies God, while the latter only glorifies self – and anything that glorifies self, over God, is sin.
So the next time, you hear or see someone in need, definitely pray for them – God is pleased with your prayers for others; but, if you really want to glorify our gracious and generous Father take it a step further and put your faith into work by being the blessing you are praying for. Start with what you have! Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking you have to be rich to bless. Even if it sometimes means tithing directly to a person in need! I’ve done this many times (giving my tithe directly to a person in need instead of a ministry or church) when necessary! NOT TO SAY that you should not tithe to your church because YOU SHOULD [don’t let the enemy deceive you into reading what is not here]; but, in times when I don’t have an additional offering to give I have blessed with tithes, this is what the church should be doing with tithes anyway – helping those in need.
We need to be willing to really get into the whole “love your neighbor as yourself” command, because if we did this…if we were really walking in love as listed in 1 Corinthians 13 we wouldn’t see a person in need and claim we can’t help when we know we can – even if that means you might have to sacrifice something(s) you WANT (keyword: want, not need) or it might be an inconvenience.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7: “Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.”
The scripture above is God’s love….ask yourself what does my love look like? If it’s not in line with God’s love, now is the time to repent and straighten up. Be the light we are called to be! God’s children, collectively, have the ability to eradicate hunger, homelessness and so much more if we would only use our means to glorify Him, instead of focusing on amassing more for ourselves. Selah.
On your own:
Be honest (in your devotional journal). If you have been convicted in this area, that’s okay! I’ve been there, now is the time to repent – go to our Father in prayer, confess your sin and turn from it, committing to help those in need through prayer and works – using what you have to bless others. If you have already been blessing others, awesome! Keep giving glory to God!
Next, spend some time in prayer asking God to show you the needs of those around you along with how you can (and who you should) help. When you do help people, make it a point to give credit and glory to God that they might praise Him or come to know Him if they do not. Also give in private, don’t tell Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc – let this be between you, the receiver and God (and your spouse if necessary due to finances).
Taken from the: “God, For Sinners.” Devotional Series – written by Trista R. Ashley