How many times has my pen hovered long over a blank "get well" greeting to a Christian friend, and I spent not one second in prayer for her? It's the praying that blesses, not the scribbled sentiments in a card, forgotten even as the ink dries. The other day I brought tomatoes from my father's garden to the elderly widow Josephine down the street, and I am chagrined at how close I came to not thinking to pray for her on the way.
I find that if I do good deeds for people without coupling the acts with prayer, I am not really loving them---I am "managing" relationships. I am accumulating feathers in my cap. It is the worst kind of disingenuousness; it is amassing a portfolio of people who like me, so that I can feel good about myself. All the while, I am depriving them of the one thing I know they need most.
Francis Schaeffer once said that we should never think of the cashier at the supermarket as a cashier primarily but as a creature made in the image of God. Isn't it ridiculous to rush all day from store to store, relating to the clerks as automatons, not breathing a word of either prayer or gospel---all while headed for a church meeting at which we will discuss winning the world for Christ? If we cultivated the habit of praying for the people we come across in the course of a day, it would go a long way toward bridging the gap between our theology and our reality.
Bill Johnson, a California pastor and author of When Heaven Invades Earth, shared the following:
"I used to frequent a local health food store. It was the kind that had strange music and many books by various gurus and cultic spiritual guides. I did business there because of a commitment I made to bring the light of God to the darkest places in town. I wanted them to see a contrast between what they thought was light and what is actually Light. Before entering, I would pray specifically that the anointing of God would rest upon me and flow through me. I would walk up and down the aisles praying quietly in the Spirit, wanting God to fill the store. One day the owner came to me and said, 'Something is different when you come into the store.' A door opened that day that gave me many opportunities for future ministry. The anointing upon me equipped me for service."
We ought always to live in the supernatural realm.
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