The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Today we find in the readings on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception a peculiar story of Ahaz. Ahaz wasn't a particularly pious king of Judah and in the Book of Kings is known simply as one who "even immolated his child by fire, in accordance with the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites." (16:3) Simply put, he sacrificed his child to a foreign god-idol that promised peace and prosperity. But as if this wasn't bad enough, he also frequently asked for help from Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, instead of relying on God's own armies.
And so we read that the prophet Isaiah tells Ahaz to "remain calm and do not fear; do not let your courage fail", and to "ask for a sign from the Lord, your God" (Is 7:4,11). Isaih is telling Ahaz to turn from his idolatry and pray to God for help. Ahaz, in his defiance, says "I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord" (v12), essentially responding that he will not trust God, but rather in his own power and allies, the Assyrians. Further on, Isaiah then responds that in this case, the Assyrians will shave the Israelites, rendering them powerless and in suffering - "on that day a man shall keep alive a young cow or a couple of sheep, and from their abundant yield of milk he shall eat curds; curds and honey shall be the food of all who are left in the land...every place where there were a thousand vines shall become briers and thorns" (v21-23).
What does this mean for us? First of all, in the light of our current crisis, let me say that God, the author of goodness, does not in our time inflict evil on His children. Suffering is a fruit of man's pride and selfishness, and though God can and will save us, He will allow suffering as a refining fire to burn away our own idolatry. Just as Ahaz refused to give up self-control to God and desired instead to trust his idols and powerful allies, we will often choose to refuse God's help and instead rely on our own powers and allies in a time of crisis.
So, what are our idols?
But, even in the face of God's merciful judgement on Earth, we still have to choose to trust in Him and follow His commandment to love our neighbor. We must see the ways in which God is burning away our dependencies and idols so that we may 'burden Him', not trusting in powers and idols, as Ahaz did when Isaiah asked him to trust in the Lord. We must not sacrifice the lives of our at-risk brothers and sisters - the poor, the elderly, and the frail - to the idol of economy and money, as Ahaz did to his own sons in the name of prosperity. We must use this as a time of repentance for all that we worship in place of the Lord God Almighty who is all good and deserving of ALL of our love.
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
by Jason and Jessica
Eight years ago, we remember thinking that our study days were over. We probably had the (wrong) assumption that enduring over four combined decades of classrooms and earning five degrees allowed us to say that we knew everything that we needed to live our lives together.
As usual, God proves us wrong.
It has been 3 weeks since we arrived at Big Woods, Louisiana, and we have been spending a lot of this time learning about our faith and how it applies to us as missionary disciples. Every day, we spend time in prayer, praise and worship followed by studies of Acts of the Apostles, Mission of the Redeemer, teaching workshops, and Sí Señor classes. Sí Señor covers a multitude of topics specifically about missions including Serving the Poor, The Call to Holiness, and Arrival on the Mission Field. This week, Grace has even decided to opt out of the kids ministry and is now participating in all of the mission formation classes with us. Next week, she will be delivering her own Kerygma in our teaching workshop.
After lunch as a community, we have time to work on chores and the kids work on their homeschool assignments. Jason spends his afternoons fixing up a missionary house.
Thursday is our service day. Our assigned ministry is visiting a nursing home. We pray a rosary in the lunchroom and then visit as many rooms as we can before lunch. It is such a blessing for us to be able to meet, pray, and talk with the residents. Chi Yu’s exciting personality is a natural ice breaker, allowing many to open up and tell us about their own children. One beautiful lady couldn’t speak, but her face lit up when she saw Chi Yu. She pulled up her blanket and revealed her feet which were formed as uniquely and beautifully as Chi Yu’s hands. You could see the joy on her face to be around him and to share that cross with him.
Saturday is our work day, desert day and Lord’s Day dinner. We work on cleaning the community or on the various projects around our community. Grace joins Jason on Saturdays to help with the house. This is followed by desert day, two hours of quiet prayer in the fields around the mission house. It is a time of reflection, study and prayer. In the evening we dress up fancy, break bread as a community and celebrate our Lord’s Day in fellowship. The Lord’s Day dinner follows a traditional feast day celebration, which always began at sundown on the night before. We light candles, bless the bread, share it and give prayers of thanksgiving. Then we bless and share sparkling grape juice. Afterwards is a time for fellowship.
As for the kids, Brecklyn has formed a band called the Ukeladies. It consists of Brecklyn, Libby (one of the girls that lives below us in our house) and a wonderful single missionary named Rachel. They have performed several times now, and it is a joy to not only see her pick up another instrument but to get in front of the entire mission community to play. Alex is in little boy heaven with all of the new kids to play with. Chi Yu has made friends with all the missionary girls. His favorite is Shayna; he calls her China. Grace has fallen deeper in love with Jesus and is eager to learn all that she can about missions.
by Jessica Wilde
Last winter, we spent a cold, cloudy day at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. We visited the shrine, went to mass and walked along the sidewalk through the pastures on the outside of town where the first sightings of the angel and Mary took place. The kids joyfully skipped down the path before kneeling before each statue in prayer.
Afterwards, we went shopping. I found a statue of Our Lady of Fatima with the three shepherd kids kneeling in front. It reminded me of my kids and my hope that Mary was gazing lovingly over them just like she did the shepherd kids and her son, Jesus. The statue was huge! Well, it was huge for backpackers traveling around Europe with 3 kids in tow. It was a little over a foot tall; after the sales lady lovingly boxed it up, Our Lady took up my entire backpack. That night, Jason shook his head as I tried to jam all of my clothes into the other backpacks. But I was determined to bring my Mary home.
My Mary sat on our shelf through Chi Yu's adoption and our first year home with him. Then one day, I received an urgent email from my friend, Christina, asking to borrow a statue of Our Lady of Fatima for the Schoenstatt shrine’s altar for the 100th Anniversary feast day. I instantly felt called to let them borrow my beloved statue of Our Lady of Fatima. Christina’s friend, Garciela, picked up my Mary statue later that night. The next day, my friends texted me pictures of my Mary at the shrine. My heart blossomed with joy at seeing her on the altar surrounded with flowers.
"Our Lady of Fatima look so pleased and beautiful!!!" texted Garciela.
A couple days later, I texted Garciela to plan a time for her to drop off my precious statue. She texted me more beautiful pictures of my Mary on the altar.
Then Garciela sent me this text.
"I am at the Schoenstatt Shrine right now and Fr Jesus is asking if they can keep the image on the altar until Saturday?"
How could I deny Fr Jesus my Mary?
Of course my Mary could stay there another week! But I felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to give more. Before I knew it and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I was gifting my precious statue to the shrine because she was never just my Mary. She is everyone's Mary.
I replied. "This was a special treasure from our pilgrimage to Fatima. But I think Mary likes it there at the shrine. ;-) Please offer her to Father Jesus and ask him to pray for us and our mission to serve the poor."
After sending the text, I remembered my kids kneeling in front of Mary's statue in Fatima. I sobbed and fell to my knees in a puddle of tears. For the first time since adopting Gospel poverty and selling all of our stuff to become missionaries, my heart grieved. I did not want to let my Mary go. Jason pulled me into his arms and told me it was "probably for the best" because she would have likely been broken on our international move anyways. But my heart still hurt.
At that moment, Jason's friend Lucy, with whom he was sharing the news of our call to missions, texted us this message.
"That is so awesome to hear!! I know the Lord is going to multiply everything you are leaving behind. He will never take something away without giving you more back in return. I can't wait to see His power unfold in your & your families life."
My tears dried up as I drew strength from my hope in Jesus.
Later that week, Alex broke my special coffee cup that I wanted to bring with us on our Mission. I had bought it with my Grandma in Montana when I was a little girl. Again, I was sad and upset. In a flash, the hope I had acquired was gone and was replaced with despair. I couldn't believe that I had lost Mary and now this! In my frustration, I grabbed my phone and told Alex to freeze so I could text Jason a picture of Alex with my precious shattered coffee cup.
I was so caught up in my loss that I failed to see the big picture. I checked the photo before I sent it and saw the kids' "Jesus I Trust In You" journal sitting right there above the shattered coffee cup. It was as if Jesus was knocking me over the head saying don't store up treasures here but give it all to me. Trust in Me. Hope in Me. Once again my tears turned to dancing.
We had a garage sale at a friend’s house followed by an end of the year party for our co-op. My friend, Christina, who initially asked to borrow the statue for the shrine was there. She was very sweet and said if Our Lady of Fatima was that sentimental that they would save her for me or my kids. I was tempted to ask her for Mary back right away since my parents could keep her safe at their house. But this was my own selfishness and greed seeping out yet again. I pushed this desire deep inside and refocused on my faith in God's eternal treasures. I needed to put my hope, my trust and my faith in Him.
My Treasure Multiplies
"If you would like a visit from the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt (traveling mother) I will be happy to bring her to you, so she can bring the graces from the Shrine to your home and help during this transition. 🙏" texted Garciela
I told Garciela that I would be honored. The next day Garciela brought the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt over to visit me. We prayed the prayer on the back of the statue. I asked the kids for their prayer intentions. Grace prayed for our mission. Brecklyn prayed for peace in the world. And Alex prayed for us all to go to Heaven. Afterwards, Graciela explained the mission of the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt. She told me the story of Deacon John Pozzobon, who carried the Pilgrim Mother of Schoenstatt over 85,000 miles by foot to visit people in Brazil.
I became a little donkey that went about carrying the Mother. (Deacon John Pozzobon)
I asked her if I could buy a statue at the shrine to share with people on our mission. Before I knew it, she was offering to let us keep this statue. She then started planning our training, commissioning and a blessing by the priest at the Schoenstatt Shrine later this summer.
While in my naiveness I had thought I had "lost" my Mary, God was actually multiplying her role in my life. Now Mary wasn't just a statue on my shelf but my responsibility. In the image of Our Pilgrim Mother, Mary is holding Jesus bringing Him to the world. Therefore, our family was to be her feet bringing Jesus to visit the poor, the sick and the imprisoned just like Mary brought Jesus when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.
We started consecrating ourselves to Mary every day and I realized that she did not belong to me but that I belong to her. I am her daughter and she is my mother. She has always been there for me and always will.
My Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my entire self without reserve. As I am your own, my good Mother, guard me and defend me as your property and possession. Amen
by Jason and Jessica Wilde
Today, we learned from Chi Yu’s geneticist that he does indeed have Duane’s Radial Ray Syndrome, a flipping of one of his genetic indicators that typically causes limb differences, problems with eye muscles, pancreas and kidney issues, and in some cases, heart defects. While this official diagnosis wasn’t really a surprise to us since he has most of the symptoms, it was the doctor’s follow-up questions that caused us to step back.
To start with, his specific genetic variant is slightly different from the typical case. The doctor was particularly curious about this difference and said it may be due to the lack of cases from Asian backgrounds in the genetic database. She then asked if we would consent to his case being used as the subject for a medical paper. Naturally my response was “Sure, why not if this could help someone.”
While waiting on the doctor, I received this text from my eldest daughter, Grace.
While seemingly unrelated, I thought it was a good quote and wanted to post it on Facebook. But like a good investigator, I did my research and looked up the quote. It comes from Saint John Paul’s mass at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 1979, where he spoke at length on the sanctity of human life and family.
“When Chi Yu decides to have kids, it will be a ‘flip of the coin’ chance of his child having this same condition”, I was told. The doctor casually explained all of his ‘options’. He could do selective in vitro fertilization. They could test the embryos for this before implanting them in his wife’s womb. Or, they could do amniocentesis to test for this condition after the baby is conceived…and then what? Lastly, almost as an offhand comment, he could do nothing about it and flip the coin.
We chose a child with a special need. His special need is just one small part of the amazing person Chi Yu is. It doesn’t make him less. It doesn’t make him unworthy of life. When his wife falls in love with him, I pray that she falls in love with everything about him, including his disability. It is a part of him as a human being.
And then I think back to the medical paper. Would it be used to help predict this condition and be a reason for a mother to abort her child? Or how could you choose which embryo gets to continue living based on an indicator for a physical disability? Why would this kind of discrimination be any different from racial, religious, gender, or poverty discrimination? These are all equivalently an attack on life.
The interjection of a random text from my daughter had a purpose. At first it seemed unrelated, but after researching the context and praying about it, her text was a gift of wisdom in that dark moment. God’s Word through a Saint’s intercession is timeless. The issues that Saint John Paul spoke against almost 40 years ago - racism, discrimination, attacks on the dignity of life, poverty, and acts of selfishness like exclusion and natural resource squandering are still prevalent today. And, as pro-life supporters, we can’t pick pieces - all are equally important.
Given these thoughts, we can’t in good faith allow Chi’s results to be used for this paper. What do you think?
(All quotes above from Saint John Paul’s mass at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 1979.)
by Grace Wilde
You read the bible at least once a week. The Bible starts at the beginning of the earth. But where does it end? It never ends, because the bible is still being written. Why? Well there are many proofs of this.
The first proof is that the people who wrote some of the books probably just intended them to be records or letters of things that happened. In time those records and letters were read and gave a spiritual feeling that enlightened people. There are things like this today. Think of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si. People read it, are enlightened and really understand how it can change their life. It won’t be put in the Bible. But, Laudato Si will enlighten many people just as the Bible is a book of enlightenment.
Another way we can prove this is that from the beginning of the Bible God has had plans. He planned a perfect everlasting life in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. God’s plan was destroyed with sin so he made plans for a Savior. Through the middle of the
Old Testament, God planned that someone would lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Even today the Lord has plans. He has plans for us to go to Heaven, because the Bible is a book of promises.
The third and final proof is simple; God has never and never will abandon us.
Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
If God had abandoned us as soon as we sinned, the bible would be two pages long. So as long as he loves us, which is forever, the Bible is still being written. The Bible is a picture of God's everlasting love.
We know for sure that the Bible is still being written. But, how can we write in it? We can write in it through acts of mercy as Pope Francis writes,
The Pope says that you must read the Bible over and over. We should write in it with mercy and love because the Bible is the book of the mercy of God. By giving to the poor, you can show His mercy and love. You can also love the orphans. Lastly, Pope Francis said that we should ask our Lord for help to become a writer of the Bible.
We have seen that the Bible is still being written. Through the books people have written, through the promises of God, and through the everlasting promise that He would never abandon us, we can tell that the Bible is still being written. Through all of the Bible now and until the end of the earth, the bible shows all the LOVE He has for us. We can give back his love, by praying, attending sacraments and acting with Mercy to write the next book in the Bible. But I think the most important thing is, the Bible is still being written, so write it!
by Jason, Grace, Brecklyn, and Alex
In this year of mercy, we have been searching for ways to serve God’s people through personal involvement. It’s not that we couldn’t go bring a few boxes of Huggies or Cheerios to the Life Center at our church, it’s that we felt like there was something more we could do...something that would help us feel more in tune with those in need of mercy...to pop our bubble of contentedness and let us change ourselves.
We had been giving out “Mother Teresa bags” to people on the street corners for over a year now. But, it was time to go a step farther. And so, when a coworker asked for donations for hygiene kits for the homeless, I asked how we could help in person. I decided to take Grace, Brecklyn, and Alex with me, with the intent that they would help out with the kits, and hopefully be able to help distribute them in one of the homeless communities in Austin. As this was a pretty daunting undertaking for a Dad and his 3 babies, I’d like to let everyone hear how the kids felt about the entire experience.
I’ll have to admit - I was a little nervous taking the kids to downtown Austin and throwing them right into the community service fire. In fact, as I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up some soap for the kits, my mind was already thinking of ways out. It took a bit of courage to set those thoughts aside and type the address into my GPS.
Preparing the bags
(Grace): We prepared the bags. First, we unwrapped the the multi-packages of soap and shampoo/conditioner and lotion. Then I waited for a while until everybody came in. And then I started filling a few bags by going around the table in circles, picking things up and putting them in the bag. They also had little cards in the bags that told about the importance of water. Then, they said we had to do an assembly line. I started by putting toothpaste in the bags, but then I noticed another person doing the same job, and I saw that Brecklyn and Alex needed help bringing the finished bags to the pile. And so, I did that. There were about 30 people making bags. They worked hard. Half of them had just come from a party in the hall and they saw that there was a need for help, and so they helped.
As we finished up, there was a lull while everyone organized and prayed for growth, strength, and safety. The organizers explained how we needed to stay in groups for safety, and that there would be drug use. My Dad anxiety went crazy at this point. Our kids were the youngest in the group, and something in my mind told me that I just needed to slip out the back and go home. But, I knew this was not God talking...it was my own fear that keeps me from serving God.
Stop 1: ARCH
ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless) is a large facility in downtown Austin that serves as a first services and shelter center for Austin’s homeless. We basically set up shop on the front steps.
(Brecklyn): We gave water to the homeless. And we packaged soap and things that you wash with. We gave the things that we packaged up to the homeless too. It was hot. Very hot. One person had a big brown dog. Whenever someone came toward it, the dog stood up. At the first place there were more people. The homeless people were all sitting there. Their clothes were worn out. We gave them crackers. Most of the time they were talking to other people helping with us. When we gave water, they said “Thank you” and they were happy.
(Grace): After (we) filled the bags, everyone got out of their church clothes and we started giving the homeless the supplies. It made me feel happy that we were doing something, but it also made me sad that they were in such conditions. There was trash everywhere, especially under the bridge. And it was very hot. When we handed the bags to the people, they would say “Thank you”, or “Beautiful”.- Grace
(Alex): My favorite part was the music that we all sang together. Some of the homeless people sang with us. I heard Amazing Grace and If You’re Happy and You Know It. One verse in If You’re Happy was to say Amen. We sang half of the time, and in the spots between songs, we gave water bottles and bags. And I was sad about all of the people.
As the crowd subsided, we were to move to another location down the road - under an overpass bridge, and away from the heavily protected shelter. Once again, my mind was racing - something was telling me that we have seen enough for the kids, and that this was a perfect opportunity to excuse ourselves. But, as we prayed, I was again told by God to stay the course. My prayer was being answered.
Stop 2: Bridge
(Brecklyn): At the second place, we were underneath a bridge. I couldn’t get to most of the homeless people because most of them were near the bridge’s poles and we were in the parking lot under the bridge. I am happy that I helped the people that I could. It wasn’t scary.
(Alex): There were two spots where we went. We went to the homeless shelter, then we went under a bridge. And I noticed that there was this same sign that I saw that said “Tickets may hurt, but crashes kill”. This is the same sign that I see all the time when I go on the bridge to get to the doctor’s office. But I never noticed that there were actually poor people living under that bridge.
I never noticed that there were actually poor people living under that bridge.
As we drove home, I had a hard time speaking to the kids about their experiences. My heart ached for the lives that we had just touched. That there could be such despair and pain just one block over from the famed 6th street, and that we literally drive over these lives every time we pass through - I think Alex pretty much hit the nail on the head. I now realize that it was Satan trying to convince me to leave at just the right opportunities, that I had nearly let fear prevent our kids from seeing and touching these precious lives, just like he did to Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
by Grace Wilde
Hi, it’s me again, Grace. Today I am going to talk about one of my favorite saints, St Therese of Lisieux: the little flower of the Child Jesus. Why do I like her, you ask? Well, there are many reasons. First, GG ‘Meier planted many roses and flowers in her garden and it reminds me of the flower we are and how we make God's garden beautiful. Second, I love how she spent much of her life as a normal person at her home. But, inside it was a different place of love for our Lord and we should do the same thing. The last reason is that she is the patron saint of missionaries, and I want to be a missionary when I grow up.
Therese was born January 2, 1873, to Louis and Zelie Martin in the town of Alencon. She was one of five children, Marie, Pauline, Leonie, and Celine. Not only were they a very loving and happy family, but also very religious. Zelie would go to morning mass whenever there was time. Therese also loved going to mass, and looked forward to Sundays. Louis and Zelie owned a lace business. Zelie would sew the pieces of lace together at home and Louis would take care of selling and helping the workers all around France. Even though she was very busy, Zelie still never forgot to teach Therese about her beloved faith. But, then when Therese was only 4 years old, her mom died. The family was very sad. With the help of Therese’s uncle, Louis sold there house, closed the business, and moved to Lisieux.
Therese was very happy when they moved to Lisieux. She was near her favorite cousin Marie Gurin, and it was a whole new world for her. There are many orders of nuns in Lisieux and the Martins loved to visit them. But there was a convent that the Martins supported greatly. It was the convent of Mt. Carmel. The nuns were stuck in the convent praying and working all day. They are very poor so the Martins often sent needed supplies and talked to the mother or leader of the convent. When she first learned of this order she didn’t know it yet, but this order would change her life.
One day in 1882 Therese’s big sister Pauline announced that she was to enter the Convent of Mt. Carmel in a few months. This shocked Therese at first but after a few days she asked Pauline if she could enter too. Pauline said that she still would not be able to see her often because she had to devote herself to God and her work. Therese also was too young since the youngest you were ever accepted was 15 years old. This saddened Therese and after Pauline left Therese became sick almost to dying. When the doctor had lost hope, Therese just sat there almost unconscious. There was only one thing left to do which was to pray. There was a statue of Mary in the room she was in. So, the family prayed to the statue on her bedside. Then something happened. She started praying with them, and she started to seem to understand what they were saying. In the next few weeks her health improved and she was better. Afterwards she said that night she saw the statue of mary smile and everything came to life again.
Time passed and she still wanted to go to the Carmel. She often prayed especially to the Infant of Prague which she had a special devotion to. When she was 13 years old her oldest sister Marie left for the Carmel as well. Soon she told Louis that her wishes were the same. Then he reminded her the same thing Pauline had said long ago. “You still would not be able to see your sisters often because you have to devote yourself to God and your work. You are also too young since the youngest you could ever be accepted is 15 years old” he said. But, Therese said it was for the work of God. “But you are still too young,” said Louis. With some thought and prayer Louis supported his girl greatly in her vocation. By early 1889, Therese was finally admitted into the convent. The years after was a dream come true for Sister Therese of the Child Jesus. Soon her sister Celine and her cousin Marie were also Carmelite nuns. To make a note, Leonie entered the Visitation convent a few years earlier. Therese loved praying to the Lord and taking care of the shrine of the Infant of Prague.
Sister Pauline, who had now been granted the title of Mother Pauline, thought about Therese’s time in waiting, and how good she had been in waiting. Then she thought of the ones who were not patient and knocked on their door every day. So she asked Sister Therese to write a whole document on her life from Alencon to her life in the convent. Therese obediently agreed. When she had finished The Story of a Soul with the word love, Mother Pauline was full of content.
Then, the nuns began noticing Sister Therese coughing a lot, and her handkerchief was full of blood. So they called in the doctor who said she had Tuberculosis. He said that she must be very careful with her health and spend most of her time in a chair or bed. Her health worsened. On September 30, 1897 Sister Therese died at age 24.
How was such a person who was cut out from the world known to the world, then become a saint? Well it is said that someone outside the convent read some of The Story of a Soul and was enlightened. In a year, the whole book was published to the world to see her great deeds. One of the most popular quotes were ones on flowers. Here is one:
The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.
Soon, the Pope was starting to beatify her, which is the first step to becoming a saint. Some of the process is finding and seeking out details in her life. Next, they found out if she was in heaven. Then, a miracle through her. After that, they sought out to canonize her by waiting for two more miracles. Finally, she was canonized in a great ceremony on May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. She is the patron saint of missionaries because she sent letters and prayers to the missionaries.
Today, Oct 1, is St Therese of Lisieux’s feast day. Let us think about how to use her as a role model for our life by being obedient and patient.
St Therese of Lisieux pray for us.
For more info:
Saint Therese and the Roses - By Helen Walker Homan
St Therese of the Child Jesus - By Rev Jude Winkler
The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
by Jason Wilde
“I'll pray for you.”
It's a phrase that is so common now, we don't even think about it.
Got the flu? “I'll pray for you.”
Going to be tested for a rare disease? “I'll pray for you.”
Tough test coming up? “I'll pray for you.”
Job interview? “I'll pray for you.”
In fact, reading through my Facebook feed, it is so common in some threads that it seems like the phrase “I'll pray for you” has just become another way to say “Good luck!”
Taking a weekend trip to your in-laws? “I'll pray for you.”
Feeling really down this week? “I'll pray for you.”
Got in an argument with me? “I'll pray for you.”
Taking all the kids alone for the weekend? “I'll pray for you.”
With all the atrocities in our world, it has even become common to pray for people that we've never met!
Your sister having is a baby? “I'll pray for her.”
Uncle going to rehab again? “I'll pray for him.”
That poor family sleeping at the gas station? “Let's pray for them.”
Babies being aborted? “We pray for them.”
So, let's say you actually *do* remember to stop for a minute and say a quick prayer…
“God, I pray that you could help that family who lost everything in a fire. They deserve better. Amen.”
Is that it? Is that all it takes to pray for someone?
This reminds me of a popular e-mail management style called ‘zero inbox’. The idea is that you keep your e-mail inbox empty at all times by immediately categorizing, tagging, and/or responding to all incoming e-mail as soon as they arrive. Create task (Pray for xx), write message to God (God, please help xx), send, and forget…awesome, now I can worry about the things that I can control, because I have faith and trust in God.
It also makes me think of one of those GodSpeaks billboards on the way to Lubbock:
So, where does this phrase come from? Psalm 55:22 is a popular, catchy verse, but a more insightful source is 1 Peter 5:7 - “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” But, in order to understand what this verse means, we must step back and understand the context.
This verse is the conclusion of a passage asking a Christian community to be humble and listen to their appointed Christian leaders and teachers:
So, the passage is about humility, and it says that only in subjection and humility should you give all your problems to Him. Humble yourself, submit yourself, be willing to do what God asks of you, and only then, let go of your problems.
You see, the problem with zero inbox is that, while it allows you to remove all worries and concerns from your mind, it is an “out of sight, out of mind” methodology, meaning that once you click 'Send’, it is immediately purged from memory, no possibility of immediate feedback. It is not an effective two-way communication method. Once you send your prayer, the only way God can respond is by catching your undivided attention again, and by then, you've probably forgotten what question he is answering, resulting in yet another “I'll pray for you.”
Prayer is a time to talk with God...but as in many of society’s problems, we forget that “The secret to talking is listening.” (We bought a zoo). Prayer is not the time for us to ask of God, but for him to ask of us. You can’t just simply ‘give’ your problems to God, because then in your mind, it isn’t your problem anymore, and you have removed the possibility of God directing you to a solution.
So, if any of the GodSpeaks marketing people happen to be reading this, you missed a vital part of the ad...it should say:
A similar problem exists when atheists attack prayer, saying it doesn’t help and doesn’t solve problems. Essentially, they have taken “I’ll pray for you” out of the equation. Now, an atheist could still go help a person in need and be doing His will without even knowing it - this is the beauty of God’s divine mercy. This atheist could be serving God’s people while a self proclaimed Christian has simply ‘prayed’ and moved on. But the problem comes when a person acts without listening to God, and in this way, that person becomes a god helping only those he feels worthy.
So, the next time you promise to pray for God to help your friend who has pneumonia and is dealing with her 2 kids while her husband is on a work trip, try asking God for an answer, and listen. Maybe instead of prayer-mailing someone else’s problem on God and then running off like it’s the weekend, you will hear God’s response, which could very well be “Well, are you going to help?”
There are many problems in our world, and yes, we should pray for every single one of them. But, remember that prayer should invite a response from God that can change us and help us solve the world's problems, one prayer at a time.
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.