We hear it a lot – thoughts and prayers going out. But who do those thoughts and prayers go out to? And to what end?
I’m not writing this to in any way demean or diminish the reason for someone saying this. I’m writing it because I’m also concerned and care about the person saying it.
One day when I arrived at work on a college campus, I saw someone walking over to a table to join someone who was already there. It was the first week of classes – and all the fraternities, sororities and clubs were trying to recruit new members. The person who was already at the table said to the new arrival – “Thank God you’re here!” Sounds good. Until I saw they were working the humanist table. They don’t believe in God. So who exactly was being thanked?
Since then – I often wonder who is being addressed when someone talks about “God”.
This morning I was wondering something similar about this phrase – “my thoughts and prayers go out”.
“Our thoughts go out”. To who? To what end?
Thoughts just “going out” aren’t really directed at anyone. It’s just thoughts. What do we expect when we say this?
“Our prayers go out”. To who? To what end?
Presumably, given that the word prayer is used – these prayers are going out to “a god” of some sort.
If it’s not the Capital “G” God of Abraham – who is it?
If you are praying, but not to the God of Abraham – is your prayer even directed to someone?
And what do you expect from them / him / her / it?
Or is it like the humanist I saw – who clearly just said the words, but they had no meaning to him. Or else, he really wasn’t a humanist.
Or are you like the people Paul encountered in Athens?
Ac 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
This God – the God of Abraham – that Paul is proclaiming – is the only One who actually hears your prayers and can do something about them. If you’re not praying to Him – I invite to you start.
But what if you are praying to the God of Abraham? Do you ever pray / talk to Him at other times? Do you really believe that He hears you? Do you really believe that He can do anything about your prayers? Do you think that maybe He has no reason to listen to you – because you aren’t good enough? Or maybe this is the only time you pray – so you figure “Why should He listen?”
I have to tell you – if you believe this – you’re not alone. It’s been going on for a long time. And it’s wrong.
The quote below is from Psalms – a book that all who believe in and pray to the God of Abraham read. In it, David has done something wrong. He knows that God has every right to turn away from him – and ignore him – because of what he did. He’s begging God to not do that.
Ps 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Ps 51:11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Ps 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Ps 51:13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
He’s asking God to cleanse his heart. To not just turn away from him – or take His Spirit away from him. David is asking God to forgive him. To keep him in His presence.
I’ve been there. So have many of you. And He does do that.
Then David says He will teach others The LORD’s ways. And people will turn (back) to Him.
Which is what I’m doing now. If you’ve been ignoring Him – or think that He’s been ignoring you – just say and mean the words that David said in verses 10-12. After that – when your relationship with God is right – you will also want to do what David says in verse 13. As I am trying to do now.
It’s unbelievable, really. To think that a relationship, as badly broken as the one each of us has with God, can be restored. But it can. He promised that it would be. And He follows through on that promise when we ask – and truly mean it.
Jer 24:7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
When you send out your prayers – if you aren’t already doing so, send them out to the God who said the verses above.
He’s waiting to hear from you.
We even have a template of sorts – a lesson on how to pray.
If you need it – see Matthew 6:5.
My prayers go out to Him – the God I wrote about here – both for you, and on your behalf for those you pray for in the midst of all the tragedies going on in this world.