The first decision I made in our current crisis was shifting all staff resources at the church I lead to call and pray with everyone who is part of Crossroads.
It has been a herculean effort and worth every minute. Why would we do this? It isn’t just that we care about everyone connected to our church, but that I fear being called “faithless and twisted” by Jesus.
Many think of Jesus as some sort of free-love hippie who just wants to bring good vibes. The truth is He very frequently would bring scathing indictments to his listeners. His intensity wasn’t just toward the hypocritical religious people or the oppressive Romans. It was also aimed toward normal people who were acting normally.
Matthew 17 and Luke 9 tell the same story of healing. In it, a father brings Jesus his demon-possessed son. Before casting out the demon, Jesus calls everyone within earshot “faithless and twisted.” This would include the father who wants his son delivered, as well as the possessed son. It also includes people listening to him teach and even the disciples. Apparently the disciples had given it a shot, but no one could get this demon to leave until Jesus got the job done. Being called “faithless and twisted” by Jesus would not be a good day.
It sounds a bit unfair. Isn’t casting out demons a uniquely Jesus thing? No. He equipped and commissioned His disciples to do that very thing.
The disciples ask Jesus why they couldn’t cast out the demon. He responds, “This type only comes out through prayer.” In other words, His followers were going through the motions with one key omission: they didn’t actually pray. It is possible for many of us to be going through the motions of life and through this crisis without actually praying. It is possible for us to think we are being faithful but to actually be counted among a faithless and twisted generation.
I want to challenge you, not guilt you.
I am not a person who likes to layer on guilt. I want to push you to a new height, not drive you lower. What I’m going to say over the next couple paragraphs could come off like a guilt trip, but that is not my intent. However, if we do feel guilt, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I guilty?”
Is there anything you are doing right now that your agnostic neighbor isn’t doing? Anything that sets you apart from everyone else going through their everyday motions? A key thing we should all be doing right now is praying. Are you praying more now than you were a month ago? Are you praying at all? Are you praying for God to remove this scourge from our land? Are you praying for God to meet your needs? Your friends’ needs? Your neighbors’ needs?
Faithless people always find reasons not to be faithful.
A month ago, we might not have prayed because our schedules were too busy. Today, we might not be praying because life is in disarray with our schedules not being as jam packed. Tomorrow we might not be praying because we __ (insert whatever excuse comes to mind).
Humans are amazing at rationalizing away the things that will actually take our lives to the next level.
Whether it’s starting that exercise routine, asking that girl out, or actually making time to talk to God. If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, now is not the time to be slacking on prayer. Instead, it needs to be ramped up. The world needs your prayers right now. Your neighbors need your prayers. So do your family and friends. And you, most of all, when the ground underneath our feet seems to be shaking with more bad news every day, need to purposefully connect with the transcendent and all-powerful God.
Can you read? Do you have a high school degree? Have you had a job anytime in the past couple of years? Then you’re more advanced than the twelve men Jesus chose as his disciples. And his expectations for them are not lower than his expectations for you.
Forty verses before Jesus heals the boy, in the same chapter of Luke, he sends his followers out on their own. The Bible records it this way:
Jesus called the Twelve together and he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. He sent them out to proclaim God’s kingdom and to heal the sick.
I believe Jesus still expects his followers to live in power; to take authority over darkness; to proclaim God’s kingdom; and to bring healing to the sick. But we best not try to do it without him.
“This kind only comes out with prayer.” If that were true of COVID-19, would we be headed toward healing or sickness? If that were true of declining mental health across our nation, would we be headed toward healing or darkness? If that were true of suicide, of divorce, of sex trafficking, of loneliness in your apartment complex, would we be headed toward healing or more brokeness? The answer to that question is dependent upon your prayers.
Faithless and twisted is normal. Our world needs much more than that. It’s time to be different. It’s time to act. And it’s time to pray.
We want to pray for you. If you are a part of Crossroads and no one has contacted you then we just haven’t gotten to you yet, someone dropped the ball, or you never made it on our radar. Either way, we can fix that. For you or anyone else, simply go to Crossroads.net, click on the chat button in the bottom right, and we will follow up personally.
Note: Prayer is just talking to God and there’s no right or wrong way to pray. But if you need an example to follow, try this prayer Jesus taught his followers, this exercise, or this ancient song from scripture.
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