My Childhood Church
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life . . . 1 John 5:16
Over the weekend, my wife and I went to visit my parents who still live in the same small town in which I grew up. We went to church, also in the same country church in which I grew up. Most of those I grew up with know my story of addiction and recovery. One of those church mothers I hadn’t seen in a few years pulled me aside before the service yesterday morning, letting me know that she prays for me every day. She knew me as a child. She knew of my struggle with drugs. And she knows of my recovery. Through it all, she’s continued to pray for me.
I’m sure I have absolutely no idea how many people like her have prayed for me though my life struggles. My downfall was public enough that it wasn’t something I could keep a secret. As much as I wanted to keep it quiet, I couldn’t, which was good for me. I’m sure there were those who watched with morbid curiosity, but there were also countless others who prayed for me. They may not have been able to do anything else, but they were concerned and so, they prayed. For that, I’m grateful.
This is the message of today’s passage. When we see those around us engaging in self-destructive behavior, as Christians we have a responsibility to pray for them. Prayer isn’t a last resort, and it doesn’t mean that we sit back and do nothing. Rather, it should be our first response when we see a friend, family member, or neighbor struggling.
So, I daily pray for those I know who’re wrestling with addiction. I pray that God will use that struggle to teach them faith and obedience. I pray that God will use the despair of addiction to draw them to him. It’s often only in the most miserable pain that people turn to God. I hope and pray that they don’t hurt anyone else and that they don’t die in their addiction. This isn’t some trivial matter. This is life and death and if I believe in God, if I believe in prayer, and if I love those whom he’s put in my life, then I must pray for them.
Often, our prayers – if we pray at all – are confined to the stuff we think God should do for us. God, give me what I want. John though, insisted that we pray for those we know to be struggling. As followers of Christ, we must daily pray, not just for ourselves, but for those around us.