"I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one. Ezekiel 32:20
If you're involved on any level of social media, you're likely aware of the debate going on of late concerning the declaration of someone being "in our thoughts and prayers," especially as concerns those who've been victims of gun violence. On the one side are those who claim that saying such is tantamount to doing nothing, and so the statement is worthless. On the other are those who see that such a response nullifies not only the power of prayer, but the power of the Father Himself. I get that, I do, because more than I believe in the power of prayer, I believe in the power of the Father God who answers prayer. But here's the thing; I understand the frustrations of the first group. The culture abounds with those who tweet "thoughts and prayers," or post it on their Facebook page. Yet, the question must be asked; just how deep do our thoughts about it all go? How intense are our prayers?
All this reminds me of a cartoon I saw in the Leadership magazine some years back. There's a head and shoulders picture of a man standing in church, who sees another man, "Bob" approaching. The first man thinks to himself, "Oh, here comes Bob. I promised him last week that I'd be praying with him about that request he shared, but I forgot." He then quickly prays, "Lord, help Bob!" He then calls out, "Hey Bob, been prayin' for you." We could likely laugh if the same were not so true of us, and so often as well. The needs, burdens, and cares of others can so easily slip through our thoughts....and our prayers. It's not hard for this to be so as we are so consumed with our own needs, burdens and cares. Most of our energy goes into telling God, and anyone else who will listen about them. There's little room for anything else. We pray a lot, but I think that we rarely pray effectively. As someone said, we need to ask ourselves just how much will we personally benefit if He were to answer our prayers in the way that we ask? How much self-interst is there? If we're honest, there can be a great deal of it present. Husbands, wives, fathers and mothers pray for unsaved mates and children, but so much of the motive can be that in their coming to Christ, the personal lives of those asking can be made so much easier and better. Pastors and leaders pray for souls to be reached and added unto the church, but a large part of the motivation can be, with that result, the pastor, leaders, and church become more noticed, applauded, and admired. There can be so much "mixture" in our praying. A mixture of the flesh with His Spirit. The result is a weakened prayer life and weakened prayers.
These are not the kinds of lives that He calls us to in Ezekiel 32. We are skilled at asking Him to come alongside us. Here, He calls us to come alongside Him. To stand with Him....in the gap....on behalf of a culture, and yes, a church....unnoticed, unheralded, oftentimes completely unknown to all...except Him. Interceding for a nation, a community, a neighborhood....and His Body. With our thoughts and our prayers anchored in and upon Him. Such thoughts and prayers see miracles, birth awakenings, transform cultures.....and it all begins when one, just one, will come alongside Him....and stand in the gap.
We will all this day, week, and time, think thoughts and pray prayers. Of what kind will they be? The vapid, empty, self-absorbed kind that bring about the contempt of the world...or the type that unleash all the might of heaven? There are gaps everywhere today. He seeks for those who will stand in them...with Him. Will you and I be among them.....or does He need to look elsewhere?