Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The worries of this world: a call to prayer

It is impossible to be worried and thankful at the same time. One will overshadow the other, pushing it to the side. "I'm thankful, but ..." something steals the joy from us, and our thankfulness is shallow. Or, "I'm worried, but ... " I have things to be thankful for. Still we speak with thoughts that are clouded with worry.

Jesus warned us of this. "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is he who hears the word -- and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, and it becomes unfruitful." (Matt 13:22, see also Mark 4:19, Luke 8:14)

As followers of Jesus, we take this seriously. I have heard many Christians speak about Jesus' call to watch out for wealth, for the love of money, for its deceitfulness, for the divided loyalty it brings, for the threat and temptation that it poses. We may not see as clearly that Jesus says that worries -- the cares of the age and of the world -- stand beside the deceitfulness of wealth as an enemy, no less an enemy than the love of money. They are just the same in effect: a thorn or a thistle, a thing using up our energy and choking off the new life that Christ has planted in us. The cares of this life are a snare to the faithful just like drunkenness (Luke 21:34). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to set aside worry.

Matthew records Jesus saying twice that the Father knows what we need: once in telling us not to worry (Matthew 6:32), and once in urging us to pray (Matthew 6:7-9). Jesus' repetition of this key fact -- that the Father knows what we need -- forges a link between our worries and our prayers.

"Cast all your cares on God, for he cares for you." (I Peter 5:7)

Jesus urges us to pray to God without useless repetitions. We should not be tempted to think that our prayers earn some reward by a show of devoutness, or imagine that God did not know what we needed before we prayed. Instead, we are urged to pray based on the confidence that God already knows what we need -- and loves us.

In times like these it may be especially necessary, before we can give thanks, that first we give God our worries and unload all of our cares.

"Cast all your cares on God, for he cares for you." (I Peter 5:7)


Martin LaBar said...

That's a great first sentence.

Weekend Fisher said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the first sentence. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF