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What Can I Do

Our Lord himself was constantly focused on prayers for others. Praying for others, not only ourselves, is part of what defines a child of God.
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There are so many problems in this life that we feel powerless to influence. Not only the grandiose things like wars, hunger, pandemics and natural disasters. But the smaller things in life too, where we are directly involved. These may be relationship difficulties, employment concerns, financial hardships or health matters. So often, we are confronted with the question of “What can I do?”

Over the past couple of years, we have faced several “big” issues. Here in North America, we saw turbulence in the political process, social injustice, a pandemic that just about shut down our lives. When faced with such threats around us, it is easy for us to feel that there is just nothing we can personally do.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was one resource, one person who had the wisdom and power to correct all these wrongs? If that person existed, there would be an exceptionally lengthy line of petitioners at his front door. Everyone would want to come to this person to ask for intervention in their difficulties.

The authority given to our Lord Jesus Christ is beyond our full grasp.

Of course, there is no such mortal on this earth that can come close to fulfilling this need. But our omnipotent Father in heaven does, and He has, through Christ, opened the way for us to bring our petitions right before Him. While the United Nations is weighing alternatives and nations are contemplating their steps, we have been elevated through Christ to do more than any other people. For we don’t rely on our own wits and skills, but we are encouraged to bring our petitions right to our Heavenly Father. We know that His arm is not weak like ours.

The authority given to our Lord Jesus Christ is beyond our full grasp. For, he has made him to have

“dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” (Psa 8:6-8).

When faced with any dilemma, whether small or large, our first work is to pray to our God. It is not disengaging or taking a passive role in the face of our problems. Rather, it is exactly what great men and women of faith have always done. Praying for God’s intervention is, in fact, the most important thing that we can do for all the problems we face.

Peter wrote that “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers.” (1 Pet 3:12). None of us would compare our ability to influence others to the Apostle Paul. Yet, it was clear that Paul was fully dedicated to regular, fervent prayer for others. Paul prayed for young Timothy, far away in Ephesus, from his prison cell in Rome. He declared, “that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.” (2 Tim 1:3).

Paul was confident God would hear his prayers and act on Timothy’s behalf. That must have brought great comfort to him. Paul appeals to those in Rome to

“strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints.” (Rom 15:30-31).

We see a continuing theme with Paul, which was a reliance on God to deliver him and prosper his work. Epaphras of Colossi was memorialized as one who was “always labouring fervently for you in prayers.” (Col 4:12). Anna was recognized in Luke’s Gospel for serving “God with fastings and prayers night and day.” (Luke 2:37). Moses prayed for the people of Israel during their many failings in the Wilderness. Daniel’s prayer for Judah and Israel is recorded for us in Daniel 9.

Our Lord himself was constantly focused on prayers for others. Praying for others, not only ourselves, is part of what defines a child of God. It is further clear that the Apostle Paul had a “prayer list” that allowed him to call to mind the many people for which he was praying. The phrase “making mention of you in my prayers” occurs at least four times (Rom 1:9; Eph 1:16; 1 Thess 1:12; 2 Tim 1:3).

Our Lord himself was constantly focused on prayers for others.

In my imagination, I see Paul with a tattered and long scribbled list of brothers and sisters that he wanted to remember in prayer, along with other challenges that he was facing. These may have taken precedence over his own personal concerns, though we do know that he prayed three times for relief from the “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan.” (2 Cor 12:7). The answer was provided to Paul, and he accepted it. “Lest I should be exalted above measure” the answer had been no.

Applying These Lessons to Our Day and Age

Someone once wrote, “I am praying for you already. Is there anything else I can do?” This really is the right approach to life. The most important first step is to approach all problems with prayer and petition to our God. Let’s think about a big problem facing us today—the War in Ukraine. Kyiv is more than 6,300 miles from my home near Los Angeles. I may never go to Ukraine in my mortal lifetime. I certainly have no influence on what the nations or rulers are doing. But, of course, my heart goes out to all of Ukraine, especially our brothers and sisters. So, I ask the question, “What can I do?”

Let’s start by listing what we do know. We know that some of our brothers and sisters live in areas that are at elevated risk for bombardment and invasion. We know that refugees are particularly vulnerable, with uncertain circumstances and conditions. We know that the primary method for brothers and sisters in Ukraine, as well as Russia, to fellowship is through the internet. We know that Internet access, especially outside of these countries is potentially at risk. We know that our Russian brothers and sisters are highly likely to experience considerable difficulty due to the economic sanctions being imposed, making their lives even more difficult. Finally, we know that the rulers of all lands are under the control of the angels, and our objective is for all brethren to live peaceable and godly lives, absent from constant threat of authorities.

So, “What can I do?”

  1. Pray for those in Ukraine who are under threat of attack, and for their families that may be threatened. Ask our Heavenly Father to be their fortress and remove them from harm’s way.
  2. Pray for those who have successfully left Ukraine but are in various states of uncertainty in their present circumstances, as well as what their future may be. Ask God to protect them during this time of great vulnerability.
  3. Pray that we may continue to have a window of opportunity to communicate, worship and preach in Ukraine and Russia. This may include praying that Mr. Putin does not order severe Internet restrictions.
  4. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Russia, who are also victims of this war. Pray that they may be blessed with adequate resources to feed and house their families during these times of strict economic sanctions that are isolating Russia from other world economies.
  5. Pray for Mr. Putin and the Russian government to cease from their continued invasion. Pray for the leaders of Ukraine, as they attempt to govern a people that are under great duress. Pray for the nations that engage in opposition to the war, that they will not cause further harm.

That’s five items to include on our own prayer list. I am sure that you can include more. I am convinced that the members of our community are all engaged in active prayer. I wonder, however, if we might improve by speaking about prayer needs more openly? I wonder if we could pray more together. Could we demonstrate our reliance on God to our children and friends by having greater fellowship in prayer?

Years ago, several of us were presenting a Bible Reading seminar in the local community. We had been blessed with great attendance and participation. One of the seminar attendees asked me to visit his church and talk with his pastor about presenting the seminar to his congregation of more than five hundred members. While this didn’t ultimately work out, I was specifically invited to attend their prayer meeting, which they held every Tuesday night. That evening, there were at least three hundred of their five hundred members in this meeting.

Could we pray together more?

I was impressed to see how they broke into smaller groups and prayed together for specific needs. The individual I had come with had a daughter facing cancer treatments and the group, holding hands together, prayed for her healing. Later, I finally met with the pastor. He cordially greeted me and asked about the seminar. After describing it to him, he asked me, “Can I pray for you and the success of your work?” Of course, I agreed, and he led a prayer with my seminar friend and me for about three minutes.

I must say that it forced me to really examine my own practice. Had I prayed with my brethren before we started the seminar? Would I have prayed for this pastor to be successful in his work? There are many ways for us to witness the Truth. Certainly, preaching the true gospel to our friends is one of the most important methods. But I suppose that when we look back at the infant church in Jerusalem, their reputation was not only for breaking bread, and the Apostles’ doctrine, but for prayer.

They were a community that prayed often. They prayed individually. They prayed in meetings together. They prayed in the Temple. They saw prayer as a way to serve others, like Epaphras later did in Colossi.

So, what can you do? Start with specific, earnest prayer to our Heavenly Father. While the rest of the world is scratching their heads and running their best analysis, we are petitioning the God who

“measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.” (Isa 40:12).

That sounds to me like a pretty good place to start!

Dave Jennings

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2 years ago

Lovely article, Bro. Dave.
I’m also glad you acknowledged other Christians as well.

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