Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gossipy Prayer

I get a little bit concerned about some of the prayer concerns I hear from time to time. It seems that some people want to share a "prayer request" just so they can give the latest news on someone else. Now, to be sure, Christians ought to be concerned about there fellow people. We should be praying for one another. But there has to be a line clearly marking the difference between genuine concern and unhealthy fascination.

The same can be said for the morbid curiosity that we get about the needs and concerns of others. We all can fall prey to this. When we know that someone else is in need, we can become so consumed with that need that it helps us minimize our own needs. It feels good to think about and point out how someone else's problem is worse than my own. But, my heart cannot be filled with empathy and prayer if I am thinking along these lines.

Finally, sharing personal concerns can be a dangerous proposition when we get a thrill from the "celebrity-status" that we attain in a crisis. Sometimes we like being sick, or in need, or in danger. To that end we become tempted to exaggerate our needs for the sake of those who enjoy the gossip of prayer.

So here is what we should do...
  • Share only what is necessary to get the gist of the concern.
  • Get in the habit of hearing only the essential elements of the prayer concern.
  • Learn who the people are who "gossip" their prayer requests. Avoid listening to those "concerns."
  • Pray that God will give you a heart that truly cares about the needs of others.
  • When sharing personal requests, do not give information that will make your need seem more pressing than someone else's, or more dramatic than it really is.

It is truly a shame that we have taken one of the highest callings of humanity, prayer, and made it an occasion for a grievous sin, gossip. Let's be careful in our sharing and our praying.

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