Saturday, June 14, 2014

New Post: "The Blessing of Praying for Others - In Prison and Now"

In prison, each day is spent much the same way…
taking care of yourself, first and always.

There isnt much to be gained
by worrying about or helping the other convicts around you.

Each new day sees someone taken advantage of,
and as a fellow inmate - if you try to help,
you only bring suffering down on yourself.
(The guards are suspicious, and other prisoners are territorial.
So if you find a way to help someone on the inside,
it must be plain, straightforward, and clear for anyone to witness.)

The result is a constant focus on ourselves
as if we are the only important people in the world.

The typical thinking goes like this:
“no one else will care for or take care of me,
so I better do it all for myself.”

And so phone-calls, visits, and letters become a welcome relief
from the constant hopelessness we see in each other.
We learn to draw hope from the outside world-
the people who share their stories, their lives with us.

When I could speak to my wife by phone, or in a visit,
we talked about all the people we know “outside”.
Then we prayed together for God’s blessing and protection,
and we followed those with prayers for others.

I felt blessed to learn that people ‘back-home’
were thinking of and praying for me,
but once I began to pray for others…
it became a blessing for me as well.

I began to anticipate their blessing by God’s hand.
I looked forward to hearing how their lives were changing,
and it gave me a sense of hope.

When I was given the chance to enter an intensive program,
for rehabilitation that could earn me an early release,
it was a definite to answer to prayer!
And my wife shared with me how many other people
had prayed for me to have this chance.
It brought tears to my eyes, and I felt… cared for.

Now, many years later, I continue to pray each day.
I ask for God’s blessing of wisdom,
and I ask for His continued blessing in specific areas,
but I ask from a heart freed by a desire,
to be a blessing to others in need.

While I was in prison, I made some time to pray for other prisoners,
and I must admit that as I watched them-
I lost my zeal to continue.
But now… God has placed it on my heart to pray daily for others.
And so each day, I find opportunity to pray.
Mainly, I do this while driving,
praying for those who walk along the road,
or those who sit and wait for the bus to arrive.

Sometimes I ask for God’s direct blessing in their lives,
for joy, and peace that can only come from Him.
That they might know they are loved,
and that they might come to know He cares for them personally.
Asking that God may send the Holy Spirit in their greatest struggles,
to provide for and guide them.

Being back here ‘in the world’,
I see that many of us hurry on in our lives,
without taking time to see and notice the need of others.
I recognize the same ‘look out for me’ attitude,
and know I could easily do the same,
drawn into it myself and my own desires,
except that now I have children and a wife to care for.
But those days can quickly seem more like a burden than a blessing.

Then, I pray for them, my family.
I pray for my neighbors, those in the ‘public-eye’,
my co-workers, boss, and their families.
And when I pray, I find peace.
It may not seem like much, to prayer for other people,
but it does make a difference.

If we have faith that God will answer those prayers,
even if they dont receive the answer we like.

And in the end I realized,
that when I have the chance to help others,
I find myself blessed as well.

And when I prayer for others,
I believe God blesses me as well.

Do you prayer for strangers?
If so, what would you ask for them?

Here is a thought:
What if everything you asked for others from God was granted,
and God did the same for you - but double so?

Would you ask for the suffering of an enemy,
and then take a double portion for yourself?

Perhaps, God hears our prayers for others,
and blesses us as a result.

What if, it makes God smile,
when we ask for His best in another person’s life?

Maybe when we are less self-focused,
God helps us to find more peace in our own lives.

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