Lately I have seen the worst in people.
In thinking on some things after prayer this morning, I wondered about people’s ‘prayers’, when they ‘say’ they are praying ‘for’ someone.
Based on what I’ve heard and observed, I don’t think very many actually truly pray ‘for’ people when they say, “I’m praying for you.” That phrase has become almost cliché these days, especially in the age of facebook and email.
I am starting to see that most people actually pray ‘about’ someone, if they ever actually pray. They pray according to the flesh. If they pray at all. I think most people just toss the phrase out there to appear righteous and compassionate in a moment, and then either forget to pray, or they never had the actual intent to do so in the first place. I’ve asked Abba always to help me remember to pray, if I’ve said I would; usually these days I try to do it right away. If I don’t manage to do so, I’ve been ‘reminded’, thankfully, by something. The problem I have, is that if people do actually pray, many times it seems they observe what they perceive to be faults/issues in others, and ask their brand of deity to ‘fix’ that person. I’ve seen/heard of a lot of that lately.
It’s tricky. There may be actual observation or perception of ‘issues’ in their brother that they see, and so they think it is their duty to bring that before the Creator. They think they are doing a thing of mercy, I suppose, by being wise enough to see the sin/error/flaw/issue in someone’s life, and compassionate enough to make the Creator of the Universe aware of it. Umm. I think He was already aware of it! IF indeed the observation of one human being of another human’s heart is correct. I submit that MOST of the time the observation is incorrect, on some level, and always incomplete of understanding. It is written that a man himself is the only one who knows his own mind, and that G-d is the only one who knows a man’s heart. Yet so many jump to conclusions based either on one moment, a series of segmented moments, or on one morsel of gossip they heard, and set out to pray for that brother who is so at fault more than themselves. This behavior is exactly the opposite of the examples of the Nevi’im, the teachings of all biblical, sacred writ, and especially of the mind of Messiah Yeshua. NO ONE on this earth is so righteous that they know what another human needs from G-d by way of personality changes! It may be that Abba is using that person’s ‘issue’ to expose something in the one who is ‘praying for him’. No one is the master of another’s servant. NO ONE has that kind of insight into another human soul altogether, that they can deign to instruct G-d on how to fix their neighbor. Especially if they themselves have never asked, counseled, or had a thorough conversation with that person about their perception of his issue.
I have learned never to pray for/over my brother’s ‘sin that easily besets.’ I have learned never to instruct G-d on the issues of human flaws in my brothers. I do not think or dwell on those issues in my mind anyway, and certainly not in prayer life, as I am too busy trying to get the log out of my own eye. I strive NOT to talk about their ‘issue’ with others, either. I’m certain I have failed in that regard, but I’m also certain that when I have, He has corrected me and reminded me of my own nature, and brought forth genuine contrition in me. Not so of some, who most recently spoke Lashon Harah about me in my own home. And have done so like a tommy-gun since. The thing about ‘self-righteous’ people, is that they don’t see when they are being self-righteous, even if it is only for a moment, but especially when it is the pattern of their life. That is the very nature and definition of self-righteousness! Just because a person prays, especially if he says he’s praying “for you”, that does not mean he is righteous. Yeshua taught on this topic this way:
“And He [Yeshua] spoke this mashal against the men who relied upon themselves, that they were righteous, and despised every other man: “Two men went up to the Heikhal to pray, one a Parush, and the other a tax collector. And the Parush stood by himself, and prayed thus: ‘O Elohim, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortionists, covetous, adulterers, and not like this tax collector. But I fast twice a week, and I give tenth-parts on everything I earn.’ But the tax collector stood afar off, and he would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but smote his breast, saying, ‘O Elohim, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ I say to you that this man went down to his house more righteous than the Parush. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled; and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Parush mentioned the sins of others. The tax collector did not mention anyone’s sin before G-d but his own. Somehow, G-d has kept me feeling like the tax-collector. I hope I never become a ‘parush’ [Pharisee]. Incidentally, a ‘parush’ is a divider.
The self-righteous person may not actually say “thank you that I am not like….”, but that is what his heart says, when he sets his soul on another’s sin issue before the Judge. That is an exaltation of self over his fellow. Sha’ul writes, “Let each regard his neighbor better than himself,” and “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in HONOR preferring one another.” And Kefa writes, “Finally, live in harmony, share the suffering of those who suffer, be affectionate one to another, and be kind and gentle; not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but instead of these, render blessing; for to this end you have been called, that you may inherit a blessing.”
When we pray ‘for’ our brother by telling G-d of his personality issues and asking Him to help them ‘overcome’ them, all we are doing is focusing on the flesh. You reek of flesh, too! You have the EXACT same sin issue, in that your flesh deceives you and betrays you in sinful ways of which you may not even be aware! Sha’ul, who, late in his life, after he had saved thousands of souls, founded many congregations, performed hundreds, if not thousands of ACTUAL miracles, suffered in his flesh and bone body the stripes of criminals, the stoning of abominations, imprisonment, poisonings, shipwrecks, et cetera, declared, “Not as though I had already attained or were already perfect; but I am striving that I may reach that for which Yeshua HaMashi’akh appointed me. My brethren, I do not consider that I have reached the goal; but this one thing I do know, forgetting those things which are behind, I strive for those things which are before me; I press on toward the goal to receive the prize of victory of the highest calling of Elohim through Yeshua HaMashi’akh.” Just before this he had said, “I have no tzedaka of my own gained from the Torah, but the tzedaka which comes through HaEmunah of Mashi’akh; that is, the tzedaka which comes from Elohim.” And we are taught by Yeshua to give that kind of understanding to every brother, that our righteousness is not our own, and that His has been imparted to ALL who trust, even those who are not yet perfect.
People get lost in the search for ‘more righteousness’, especially many of those who think they are Torah keepers. In one sense, NO ONE IS! No matter how hard we try, we break it, especially when it comes to the ‘weightier matters of the Torah’. Yeshua said, “you have overlooked the more important matters of the Torah, such as justice, compassion, and absolute trust. These [tithing from the smallest crops] were necessary for you to have done, without having left the others [justice, compassion, and absolute trust] undone.” Justice without compassion is self-righteousness. Those who wear tzitziyot, a tallit, a kippah, and attend or even teach somewhere on Shabbat, who also commit adultery, lie, falsely accuse, and assassinate the character of a brother of Messiah, whether actively or passive-aggressively, have merely put a jewel in the nose of a pig.
So, how do we actually pray ‘for’ someone? By BLESSING. Kefa writes it, and it is quoted above. “…not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but instead of these, render blessing; for to this end you have been called, that you may inherit a blessing.”
After having heard all manner of lashon harah about myself from people who profess to follow Yeshua, I plunged myself into the scriptures, asking Abba to forgive me of my sins, and asking Him to speak to me and guide me through the perilous waters of strife. I posted on another site one of the ‘themes’ that has been speaking to me lately from the chapters I have been imbibing for the past month or so. I am learning even greater the ‘reality’ of entering into His Sukka by prayer, and being among the ‘throng,’ the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ above, and this is helping me to ‘forget’ what is behind:
“One thing have I asked of יהוה , that will I seek after: that I may dwell in Beit יהוה [His abode above] all the days of my life, to behold the kindness of יהוה , and to visit early in His Heikhal [sanctuary]. For He conceals me in His Sukka in the day of evil; He hides me in the covert of His Ohel [sacred tent, above]; He lifts me up upon a Rock.
You hide them [those who take refuge in יהוה ] in the secret place of Your presence from the plottings of man; You conceal them in a Sukka, from the strife of tongues. I will give You thanks in the great congregation; I will praise You among a numerous people.
If you then are risen with Mashi’akh, seek those things which are above, where Mashi’akh sits on the right hand of Elohim. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth, for you are dead, and your life is hidden with Mashi’akh in Elohim.”
Like Sha’ul, I am ‘forgetting what is behind,” and I am “striving for those things which are before me.” In spite of people who judge without compassion.