How many times has this happened to you? You walk up to a familiar group of folks at church and exchange cursory greetings. Back-pats, hugs, and hand-shakes aflutter. All so comfortable and familiar until that unexpected moment after these words slip out from your lips by some programmed behavior - "How are you!?!"
Before you can withdraw your platitude, regret sets in. Here it comes... you hurled these words in the direction of someone who actually has a real problem. You weren't expecting this. You're not prepared for this. Who responds to such a generic question with an honest-to-goodness problem?!
Oh, why hadn't I stayed home in my PJ's and just streamed the service on my phone?, you wonder.
This occurs more than any of us would like to admit. It happens every week in churches around the globe. This situation is no respecter of denomination, ethnic background, theology, or geography. As you slink away towards your seat - as far away from the person with a real problem as physically possible - promises are made with good intentions, but are likely never fulfilled.
"I'll be praying for you..."
"Prayin' for you, man...."
"Liftin' ya up!"
Too often these are words that easily spill from our lips without regard for the work of the promise made, only to become a promise broken. We've all done this. We're all guilty of it. Instead of ministering in the moment, we open the escape hatch and bail out.
Wherever Jesus went, he ministered in the moment.
John 5:1-11, illustrates this well:
"After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaica called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked."
Jesus ministered in the moment. He came upon someone in need and did what he could do. Now, while neither you nor I may ever heal the blind, lame, or paralyzed persons, we can meet that person where they are in the midst of their struggle and pray for healing in their hurt. We can encourage. We can offer hope. We can let them know they are not alone.
The words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them," affirm his vow to us, Jesus is divinely present in the midst of those in prayer.
When we meet someone who is hurting, what if instead of offering air-kisses and promises as we desperately seek our comfort-zone, we actually minister to their needs in that moment by joining hands and inviting Jesus into the conversation, instead of offering promised prayers and good intentions that you may never follow through on?
Prayer is powerful. Prayer is definitely powerful when gathered together with someone in need. As Christians, we are charged to be the hands and feet of Christ in this life. We should use our feet to walk up to the hurting and embrace their hands together in prayer.
Challenge: Approach someone at church this week and ask them how you can pray for them. Then do it. Right there with them in the moment. Don't worry. Jesus will be there with you.
For more on this topic, visit: https://hutchcraft.com/blogs/ron-hutchcrafts-blogs/purpose/thoughts-and-prayers-are-nice-but