2019-10-01 - Doing Our Part, Our Way
When I think of the Hymn There Is a Balm in Gilead, I normally think of funeral music. But it also speaks to the responsibility of all of us who call ourselves Christians. Some of us think that we cannot “do evangelism” because we cannot preach like Billy Graham. Some of us think that our simple prayers aren’t as meaningful as someone else’s. And if we are called on to pray in church, we may even use 1600s “Thees” like Shakespeare or the King who commissioned the KJV. I have always wondered why, since of course, Christ didn’t speak the "King’s English!” He spoke Aramaic, and even most of us language majors can't speak that! But some of us do tend to use fancy words. Now, some of us naturally do have large vocabularies because we were taught well. My mom started teaching me both English and French when I was age four, and I had wonderful language teachers from earlier years, through my graduation from college. So it isn’t surprising that I have always been known in many circles, for my writing and for being a word nerd, starting in first grade and going through Advanced French and English Comp classes. That is how God made ME. But meanwhile, He was busy giving others different gifts of which I know NOTHING. In reality, the Lord cares more about our hearts than our words. He will honor our best efforts, regardless of our eloquence or lack therein.
All of us can tell “our story” of what God has done for US. All of us can pray in a way that is true to ourselves - honoring the way that God made us. As Jesus taught us and Matthew recorded (6:7, NRSV):
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words."
Put another way (Matthew 6:7, MSG) The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes
This applies to our testimony, too. What will reach another heart, is what is straight from our own heart. The previously mentioned hymn is a good reminder of all this:
There Is A Balm in Gilead
Author Unknown African-American Spiritual (Public Domain)
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All verses are from the New American Standard Version (NASB) unless otherwise noted.