In Defense of Prayer

21 May

On Monday night I posted the following request on my Facebook account: Tomorrow, please pray for my daughter. It is her last day of testing, and two of her most important tests: Math and Japanese. Truly, she needs your prayers. I really don’t know what to pray for, just know that we need them. Thanks, R

Never would I have thought that I needed to defend my request. If you are reading this post hoping that I will defend the post, you might want to stop reading right about now. I will never defend a prayer request. Period.

I don’t expect my Facebook friends to know me, they couldn’t possibly know that yesterday I functioned on three hours of sleep, worked in my garden, helped my husband construct a frame where we will lay tile (yes, my toe really is broken), cut down two trees and stacked the limbs at the street, fixed dinner, took my daughter to a job interview, and wrote over a thousand words for a short story collection. (my point: busy day). My Facebook friends don’t know that I do NOT have cable television, that I don’t care who is on American Idol, or Survivor (is that show even on?) I live in Atlanta where I desperately try to be as unplugged from television and its bad news as much as possible. I try to plug into my family. My friends know that if something bad happens in Atlanta, please call me on the phone, otherwise I’ll be working, doing, and living the life I so love. We, like many of you, have serious life-and-death issues in our personal life that are far more “important” (to some) than passing tests. I don’t share my family’s struggles, they deserve their privacy and I respect that. But know that a prayer request for tests are heard by the same God and listened with the same ear as when I fall before him praying for healing and one more day with my loved ones.

My face-to-face friends also know that I am not a bible scholar. I am a believer, a sinner, a reacher-out to God on a daily basis. I pray for strangers, random people, friends I know, my family and sometimes (rarely) I even pray for myself.

So imagine my shock when I found the following comments to my prayer request:

I believe deeply in the power of prayer, but I have to say now that my prayers are those who are victims of the devastation in Oklahoma. That is deep and horrific suffering there, and those folks need great prayers for healing. I’m a mom, and yes, I know the need to pray for a daughter. Mine has been through some life threatening times. What we need here is perspective . I do hope you send up some prayers for the many tornado victims. I mean this. I do not take prayer lightly. It is a deep focus of my spiritual energy merging, I hope, with God. So please do send some focus and prayers to those in the deepest need. I’m sorry but Math and Japanese tests don’t compare to the loss in those tornado torn states. (name withheld, and she removed her comment later today)

There are many reasons why a person might post something of this nature. Which is why I visited her Facebook page to see if perhaps she lived in Oklahoma, had posted a plea for those she knew. There were none. No prayer requests, no mention of the victims in Oklahoma at all. What troubles me further is that this person is an author, a colleague, someone who while I do not personally know, made a conscious decision to take the time to write this comment on my wall. Authors are basically forced to be “out there” under scrutiny. If you’ve written anything longer than a grocery list then someone has voiced their displeasure. I don’t really understand why she felt the need to post what she did other than her comment allows me to talk to y’all about prayer.

As an author there is an unwritten rule that unless you are a Christian author, published by a “Christian Press” it is in your best interest to keep God in a box, beside your bed, taking Him out only when you need Him, never during a book signing, conference, conversation where someone else might overhear, become offended and decide not to purchase a copy of your work. Now if you have written about a controversial subject one that uncovers the evils of the church, then by all means talk all you want. Otherwise, answer questions in an indirect manner, politically correct of course. Don’t offend someone who might be there to purchase copies of your book.

While I was in Texas speaking at the Pulpwood Queens I met a group of Queens who had a photo of their friend, Susan. Susan sat at the table with them, wore a different tiara each night. Drawn to these ladies for personal reasons, I asked about Susan’s illness, cried with them, understood their concern, admired their love and devotion to a friend. When it was my turn to speak on the panel, I am sure that some people were offended when I began my talk by asking for prayer for Susan, whom I did not know other than having just learned that she had cancer and was in the fight of her life, a fight she lost a few months ago.

Here me clearly, selling books is not a priority. At that moment, praying for Susan was.

As an aside: perhaps this is why I don’t have a book contract, because I won’t put God in a box, because I try my sinful best to carry Him with me. When asked, and sometimes when not, I try to give God the glory and credit for my life. He gave me the writing gift, I did nothing but provide the fingers and even those are not my own.

I don’t mean to ramble, but this morning as I prayed I was just overwhelmed with the suggestion that my prayer was less important than those in Oklahoma. Or worse, that I didn’t care about those who suffer and instead thought my prayers were more important than the victims in Oklahoma. Then I remember God himself says, “come all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.All. Everyone. God doesn’t prioritize, saying: “Today is BIG PRAYER day. Don’t bother me with little prayers. No! Don’t bother me with those small-tiny prayers. Keep them to yourself. I don’t have time. God does not prioritize sin (no big or little sins) man does; and He does not prioritize our prayers. He is always waiting for us to reach out to him with every concern, be it those in Oklahoma or little ole me in Atlanta.

God didn’t say, “today is Renea’s day. I’m only listening to her prayers. Today, she gets everything she wants.”

Because honey, if God proclaimed a Renea day my mouth would ramble things that I really, really want

Could there be food for those hungry, the starving, those who won’t eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, not those who have run out of ice cream and feel a slight twinge

Could the abused children be removed from their circumstances, could they know love

Could there be peace, just today since it’s Renea-day could we have a day, where no one is murdered, where no one dies from violence, where all of our loved ones stay with us, please, (it is my day after all)

Could there be jobs for the mom’s and dad’s who have been searching for years

Could there be healing from terminal diseases, all of them not just cancer

Can those struggling with addiction be cured

Could there be love, a hunger to love one another instead of saying something to harm another

Could rain be sent to drought ridden areas, and sun sent to those areas underwater

Could the homeless be comforted, the dying not be alone, could we learn to love each other

Could we reach out to you and be hungry for more of YOU, Lord


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12 responses to “In Defense of Prayer

  1. Rachael

    May 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Mercy! The OK situation is horrible and heart-wrenching and need lots of prayers. But life goes on for us all and all of us have prayer needs which are valid and heard by the One who heals, calms and strengthens us. To suggest for us not to pray “these lesser” prayers questions the ominesence of God – his capacity for caring and listening is so great that we can’t comprehend it. Our Father has the capability to care, and I believe He does care, about the test anxiety of your Jamie as much as He does care about be people of Moore, OK. Keep praying Sissy, for all needs. I know you already do. God wants to know these concerns. He wants to have the conversations with us about “the little things.” It is called a relationship which is something He desparately wants with each of us . Still shaking my head at my house about the narrow view of God’s love and concern for his people.

  2. Regina

    May 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Renea, your request for prayers for your daughter is the “right” thing for a loving momma to do. Those who do not understand that have not read the Bible where it speaks of Jesus knowing the very number of hair on our head. Jesus cares about what is important to us…each of us. And yes! That includes prayers for a test a school, prayers for a pet, even prayers of”lord please fix my car”! Those who fail to realize this are the ones who are missing out! That is right! I said missing out!!! If you do not know the endless love God has for his Children…..and he is moved by our requests…they are missing out on having an awesome God to turn to ANYTIME! Maybe this person should spend more time reading a Bible and less time criticizing someone who requests prayers!

  3. Doe

    May 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    This does not surprise me, sadly, but it is unacceptable. If someone does not want to pray for someone’s upcoming exams or other issue in their life, then they can simply keep that to themself and instead of sending a rude, unkind, and unhelpful comment, then spend that time praying for whomever/whatever you want! I really only have one thing to say about this, well, actually Paul said it. I am merely repeating it: ” PRAYING ALWAYS with ALL PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with ALL PERSEVERANCE AND SUPPLICATION FOR ALL THE SAINTS.” (Ephesians 6:18) But perhaps this person knows better than Paul in his words that were inspired of the Holy Spirit in the irrefutable, infallible, absolute truth of the Holy Word of God. I don’t claim to wisdom above God. I just understand that we all need to call out to Him and be in pray for all things and continually; and that boldly approaching the Throne of Grace is a privilege as is bringing supplication for the needs and blessings of others!

  4. Diane

    May 21, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I am not a person who talks about prayer, and I think sometimes it’s just an easy thing to type “praying” in response to someone’s agony. It doesn’t always seem sincere to me. With that said, there was nothing about your post that I found in any way offensive. I know how mommas hurt when there’s the potential a child will be hurt, and I’ve done plenty of my own praying around those situations. Even if I had not, I would have understand your love and concern for your child.
    It seems that our ability to write comments and responses makes us feel that we *should* do it, and that it is our job to set everyone else straight. As you know, anytime you read a handful of comments, you’ll always find negative ones. It’s sad.

    • Renea

      May 21, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks Diane for your comments. It’s been a rough school year for this momma. Health issues begat grade issues and soon we were in trouble. I came to a point where I said, “she’s yours God. I can’t do anything else.” By then I really needed help praying for the situation. Thanks to you and others who carried me when I was weak.

  5. Glenda

    May 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Renea, Thank you for your wonderful, loving words. You took something that was hurtful and glorified God through it. When I read the negative comment on FB this morning I was afraid you would be upset so I said a prayer for you and your daughter. I also think we need to pray for the writer of that negative comment. Obviously she has lost perspective on the greatness of God. He knows our every hurt and need, and hears our every prayer. No need is too big or too little for Him. I am often saddened when people say they don’t ask for prayer for a certain thing because other people have bigger problems. My first thought, when there is a need, is to pray and ask others to pray. My heart cries for those people in OK and other areas where storms have destroyed their homes and lives have been lost. I pray for all of them but that does not mean that my heart stops crying for other needs. Prayer is very important to me and I am so thankful that we have the privilege to take all our needs to God. I am reminded of the words from an old hymn —
    ” What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
    O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

    • Renea

      May 21, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Thank you Glenda for your comments. Truly, I took today’s blog post to God, asked God if I needed to do anything. It’s been a tough two weeks and God has been dealing with me on needing him for everything. So I have tried, really tried, to bring him everything, even what others think is insignificant. I have a tendency to dash off then ask for help. For the past two weeks I’ve tried to say, “God, my daughter’s yours, my husband’s yours, I’m yours.” As a worker bee, this is difficult). Please know that your prayers helped me survive today.
      And, this is one of my favorite hymns, second only to Jesus Loves Me, this I know!

  6. Lynne Watts

    May 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    What is it about that one negative comment that hooks us every time? Over 20 positive comments and 50 “likes” and that one negative one is a killer isn’t it? Quite an elegant defense. I’m sure God knows how to prioritize our prayers and doesn’t judge us by where our focus falls. More important really to talk to God than to ask for the “wrong thing” …if there even is a wrong thing. Blessings.

  7. nancy garry

    May 22, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Dear Renea, I believe in praying over everything and anything and I believe with my whole heart and soul, That God longs for us to talk with him in prayer and he can listen to many prayers at once. I pray over seeds, eggs shipped to be hatched, hurt animals, everything! I was praying and am praying for your family and will continue. Don’t let the naysayers of the world change who you are! Keep on praying. I know that God loves you as well as those who are negative toward you and sometimes, it is hard to forget the hurtful things said. We aren’t all ducks and the stings don’t roll off our backs like water off a duck’s back. But just know you are loved and prayed over by Many!

    • Renea

      May 22, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Sweet Nancy,
      I had to laugh when I read about your prayer list. I have been praying for beans since last fall. The past two weeks have been a struggle, a fight with forces much stronger than I. This morning as I was reading my devotion I received my “word from God”. He has been silent for a long time. I didn’t like his answer, went into another room to cry, but immediately said. Lord, if this is your will, give me the strength to accept it knowing that you have bigger plans. Your word says you have a plan for me. Plan of hope and a future. Never to harm me. I must continue to tie myself to him, that is the only safe place I know.

  8. Monique

    May 22, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Renea, my heart hurt for you yesterday when I read that comment on your FB page. I thought it best to wait to respond because I wasn’t sure what would come out of my “mouth” if I had. It stayed with me all night and all day today. I wish I could say that God has told me what to say but I’m afraid He hasn’t. What I felt He would say is how if He cares about the sparrows and the lilies in the field, surely He cares about the things we care deeply about, such as our children and their wellbeing and how they perform on major tests and I felt He would remind us that He told us to ask anything in His name and it would be done. I pray for many things all at the same time and never have I felt that I must only pray for one thing. I pray throughout the day as I go about my day and I give thanks throughout the day – for little things and big things. I prayed for the person that felt she had to reprimand you for your prayer request and I’ve since read that she was having a bad day. I pray for her still. Because when you have a relationship with God you don’t have to “hope” your prayers reach Him, you KNOW they do and you don’t have to feel as if you better keep the agenda “focused” on only the important matters because you KNOW that if they are important to you, they are important to your Father.


    • Renea

      May 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

      Miss Monique,

      Thank you for your loving response. Of course you know that my heart is broken for Tyler and your families loss. Isn’t it wonderful when God burdens us with the concerns of others. I found myself in continual prayer for Tyler, and deep mourning when his body was later found. That is why it is such a joy to read your words. For you, in the midst of your sadness, to give me your time, touches me greatly. In my heart I know that God wants us to come to Him for everything, because He made it all…it is His. He sees our tears and it saddens him when we are upset. I believe that God gets lonely for us. We were created for Him. I would not normally respond to negative comments by writing a blog post, but through my post we have prayed for her, and perhaps we will see just how much God loves us. Consider the sparrows…


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