Some of the prayer requests contained specifics about how to trust God, and with not always knowing what to pray. Many of us are fatigued with the wait - and the weight - of unanswered prayers.
Yet in the midst of our struggles, God calls us to be His witnesses in a world that desperately needs Him. He calls us to use our gifts and talents for His glory.
How can we be at our best for God if we're weighed down with grief over lost loved ones? How do we shed the weight and give our grief to the Lord? I think part of the answer may be in this passage of Scripture.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27, NIV)
We know Jesus doesn't want us to hate anyone - we're called to love with His love. Then I read The Message translation of those verses. Helped!
“Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple."
Sometimes in our grief and concern over family members, we hold on and begin to pray out of our flesh instead of trusting God. Sometimes we even confess out loud that we know they are His; yet our actions - and even our prayers - demonstrate that we don't really believe it. Fleshy prayers drain us.
Sometimes we do need to pray more fervently and battle in their behalf. Spirit-led prayers are powerful and bear much fruit.
It's a fine line and tremendous balancing act, for sure, to know when to bear down in prayer and when to let go.
How can we tell if we're praying in our flesh or by the direction of His Spirit?
We need to keep ourselves filled with Jesus.
Read His Word. Worship Him. Declare out loud the truth of Who He is. Declare that we are not responsible for another's choices. Declare that God loves them, and us, far more than we can ever imagine.
Only when we're filled with His love and truth can we love others - and pray for them - with His love.
Even if we sinned against a family member and that started the backslide, we serve a redemptive and loving God who pursues them and woos them. They can choose to respond, forgive, and receive restoration...or not.
Families are a blessing from the Lord. He encourages us to love them, honor them, care for them.
But He never wants family to take His place in our lives, or us to take His place in their lives.
God wants us to live each and every day for Him. Always feeling hopeful or peaceful isn't a measure of our faith, it's what we choose to do - let go and trust when we can't see or control - that demonstrates our faith. Through Him, we can bear much fruit as His disciples no matter how we feel. Instead of being distracted by family, He wants us devoted to and living for Him.
And when we're weary from the battle?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message, emphasis mine)