Last Wednesday at the end of our small group time together I noticed a change of perspective in my thinking, it’s always exciting when that happens so I’m writing it down in case it blows away again and I sink back into my old ways.
I always used to be a bit dismissive of the time at the end of homegroup/small group/cell/gospel community (insert your own name for a group of Christians hanging out, reading the Bible and talking to God about their lives). In my arrogant youth I would sigh inwardly at the same old prayer requests coming up again and again, I would wonder why people weren’t bearing their souls about their lack of being on fire for the Lord (whatever that ridiculous phrase means), I would think people praying about sickness in their family were just avoiding the real deep meaningful issues going on with God. I would be frustrated that we weren’t all analysing how things were in our relationship with God. Surely we couldn’t be praying for someone’s work situation again. Surely we should be wrestling with our inner demons and crying out about our lack of love for Jesus?
Hmm. I look back and see there were some tiny good things about that way of thinking. If people are hiding behind their dead guinea pig instead of praying about the ways they are rejecting God or running from him then we should be seeking to probe a bit deeper when it comes to those prayer times (although maybe in a loving friend way over a pint rather than putting people on the spot). After all life as the people of God is all about creating deep and loving communities with each other where we are able to be honest about how life really is with Him.
But who am I to judge other peoples prayer requests? I’ve come to realise that praying for work situations isn’t a way of ducking away from how things are with God, they can be a real cry from the heart for some way of enduring the day and remembering that God is present at work. Work is something that takes up most of our time, it makes sense to pray in the midst of it. Long term illness is draining for all concerned, we need to be praying deeply into the lives of those who are affected by it. Lets face it, even pets dying can upset the equilibrium of a household and God cares about the details of how we explain about death to our kids. He cares about how we deal with loss and maybe how we take people seriously if they are affected by these things rather than smirking behind our hands or judging them for not telling us about some deeper issue in their lives.
I’m not rejecting honesty in our times together, I love it when we share the struggles and joys with each other, I think I just want to remember that there isn’t a more ‘spiritual’ prayer request than another. There isn’t an approved list of joys and struggles that God is more concerned about than others. God is deeply involved in the details of our lives, he is able to work in the midst of it all and there isn’t more worth in agonising about the state of our souls with him than in wanting to pray about the normal everyday things that make up our lives.
I’m very passionate about stamping out the weird divide we seem to have created between what is spiritual and sacred and what isn’t. It’s good to do some hard stamping on it in my own heart.
What about you? Ever tempted to judge someone else’s prayer request for not really getting to the heart of their walk with the Lord? Where do you find it easy to make a separation between spiritual stuff and non spiritual stuff?