Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Who Is Included In Your Prayers?

1 Thessalonians 1:2

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

Life ChangeSo – in our prayer life – whom do we mention? The typical nighttime prayer for a child is – God bless mommy and daddy – God bless my brother and sister – and maybe the child might add – God bless my grandma and granddad and my doggy too. We might add prayers for someone sick – for world peace – for that new job we are starting Monday – and other items on our plate. We might even praise God for simply being God. But what about praying for our enemies or for those whom we disagree with – even on important issues?

My family has four continuous generations of Methodist/United Methodist pastors. We are heaped in orthodox Wesleyan theology and practice. Over the last four plus decades (a time that has encompassed my entire time as an ordained minister) – the divide between the left and the right leaning positions in the church has grown. We have debated the Bible and the Book of Discipline (the two rule books of the church). General Conference after General Conference has dealt with numerous issues where the two theological extremes have differed. Even as we prepare for yet another battle at our 2020 General Conference in May – the two sides are opposed to one another and at different places in theology and practice. The future of the unity in the UMC is at stake. We are facing schism and more. Some are outwardly defiant to the Bible’s teaching and the instructions of the Book of Discipline and the Judicial Council of the church.

Here’s today’s passage in partial context. 1 Thessalonians 1:2–10 – We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

My point in all of this is quite simple. Even though I differ with folks theologically – even in our understanding of Christ and the power and importance of His death and resurrection – I will still pray for them and often do. Even as Annual Conference arrives in a few months and many things will be debated – heatedly – I will continue to pray for those who are opposed to my understanding of God and His teachings – found in the Bible. We are called to pray for all persons of faith – even those who disagree with us. We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

I even pray for my enemies at times. I can’t say I always do so – but I do pray for the enemies of Christ – the enemies of our nation – and the enemies of mine on a personal level. It is not easy – but we’re told to always thank God for all people. We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

I hope those who disagree with me pray for me as well. I think – much to our surprise – neither side has a hold on perfect thinking and understanding. I pray God will reveal His will on the numerous subjects that divide us – before we actually divide. I pray that our divide will cease to encompass so much of our energy and that we can get back to making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Benjamin Franklin said – If we do not hang together – we shall surely hang separately. Today – I say – unless we pray for each other – we will no longer play (work) together.

How about praying for those with a different ideology? For the President – even if you didn’t vote for him? For the Congress – both sides of the isle? How about praying for the 2020 Elections? For that family member you are at odds with over whatever it was that started things in the wrong direction?

Your thoughts are always welcome.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

November 27, 2019 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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