Resuming discussion on how to respond to a person in a faith crisis. The importance of prayer in the situation and of praying for the person walking through the faith crisis. How prayer can affect a person. How I felt people pray for me when I was in my faith crisis. Some thoughts on prayer.
“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. ”
“Pray without ceasing“
1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV
Today’s post is going to look at prayer and the importance of praying for someone in a faith crisis. In addition to that I want to do something deeply unique and intimate. I also want to spend some time explaining how I felt prayer and knew I was being prayed for when I walked away from the Christian faith for 5 years. In addition I would like to discuss how it felt, my reaction, and some thoughts today after the faith crisis as I reflect back on it after the fact.
In getting started let me state that there are many things about prayer that I don’t know. I don’t know why sometimes you can pray for a person to get better and the cancer instead spreads. I don’t know why some prayers are answered and others are not. I don’t know why Christians are so quick to give God credit for answered prayers but don’t blame him for unanswered ones. I am not someone coming before you claiming to have all the answers and every aspect figured out. There are so many questions that have been created just by living in life, and as I age I experience new ones. The other day I learned that someone I played football with in high school passed away in his sleep. I believe he was 40, and he leaves behind three kids if I am correct. Its given me a number of things to contemplate. So when it comes to prayer there are many things I do not get, and yet there are some things I can’t explain. I will get into that below.
For the Person Reaching Out to Someone in a Faith Crisis
For the person on the outside watching someone undergo a faith crisis the one thing I would make paramount in my life is to pray hard for the person under going the faith crisis. One of the most beautiful aspects I believe about Christianity is a person who embarks on a long term effort to pray for someone. Its rare, and not something you see a lot. I think this is played out in the story of Monica of Hippo and how she prayed, and wept for her son Augustine. How often do you see that kind of prayer today? There are a lot of Christians who I believe take a cheap view of prayer. They focus on something for a brief time and then they give up on it, and let it be. I find that to be very cheap, and if I am going to be brutally honest I think I have to call myself out on that practice for years. Eagle, when you lived in California or Wisconsin how often did you do that? Start to pray for something or someone and then in a short amount of time let it go.
But long, arduous prayer I believe can move mountains if the motivation is right. I realized this when I was seeking forgiveness from 140 people and repenting for things I said in my faith crisis. Why did the Lord allow that to happen? I believe the Lord aches for unity, and aches for an end of division. I believe the Lord longs for families to be united, made whole, and former friends and co-workers to be reconciled. Given the cost that Jesus had at Calvary in reconciling people like me to the Lord, I believe the Lord longs and aches for as much reconciliation as possible. On a side note this is why I believe tribalism is a divisive and horrific sin. People withdraw from each other into their denominations and build walls to keep people out and surround themselves with like minded people. With tribalism in the end no one wins….and everyone loses. But prayer I believe can be very powerful. How powerful? When I was reconciling and working at re-building relationships and healing pain I had caused whether it be intentional or unintentional I learned something that took my breath away. Back in 2009 I had burned bridges horrifically with someone in the DC area. In response to what was transpiring this individual maintained and kept a prayer list of 5 people for which he would regularly pray. He wasn’t legalistic about it, he didn’t attach time lines to it, instead he poured himself into regular prayer for 5 people. When my faith crisis erupted and I acted harshly towards this guy and permanently severed the relationship this individual put me on his prayer list and prayed for me regularly. About 5 or 6 years later I approached him asking him for forgiveness and he crossed me off his prayer list now considering my return to faith as been a prayer that has been answered. But how often do you hear about prayer like that today? You really don’t…and that is a tragedy.
For the Person in a Faith Crisis…How I Felt Prayer
I want to talk about something deeply personal and spend some time reflecting on it. For some strange reason I can actually feel people pray for me. But I especially felt it during my faith crisis. It really angered me deeply because I wanted to get away from the Christian faith, and tried. I fled as far away as I could. Despite that I could still feel people pray for me. Here’s how it works…and you may think I am nuts, I am just being forthcoming and I privately wondered today if other people also feel prayer? What happens is that I will be doing something and in a moment a feeling comes over me and at that times I know someone is praying for me. Its just a feeling that descends upon me. There are a couple of illustrations I can use to make my point. One time in January 2010 or so I was with my model train club in Chantilly, Virginia. We were setting up a model train layout. While I was immersed a feeling came over me and I stopped and knew what was going on. Someone was praying for me. I got irritated and I pulled out my cell phone and sent a text to a couple of people and asked, “Are you praying for me right now?” And one guy, Mike from North Carolina who I knew from National Community Church said he was dong so that very moment I contacted him. This feeling would appear often and I remember another time in which I felt someone praying for me, and I felt it was Scott Van Swerningen praying for me and I contacted him at the moment and caught him in the act. In case you are interested I wrote an open letter to Scott Van Swernigen you can read on this journal While I did that a couple of times there were more times that I did not take that act. I was personally frustrated with this situation especially as I was trying to get away from religion and faith. After all what type of person who publically claims agnosticism privately feels prayer? It angered me. Today in reflecting upon it I wonder if its a byproduct of having a close relationship or friendship. I don’t know, but needless to say I still do feel people praying for me today from time to time. I do not understand this and wish I could have an explanation…I really do.
The one person I felt pray for me often who I never acknowledged because of my faith crisis was Andrew White from Redeemer Arlington. There were times I felt him pray but out of pride I couldn’t admit it. Today this tears me apart. As we are estranged one of the things that I am hoping and praying for is that one day I can have a long talk with him and thank him for the times he prayed for me. It tears me apart that I have not been able to say, “Thank you Andrew…” in this circumstance. I have about 200 issues or so to resolve and this is one of them. So having said all that maybe this is why today you now know why I don’t give up easily or quit when it comes to prayer. Deep in my heart I have to believe that other people who I am praying for feel my prayers and that , maybe they can’t admit it. I personally know what that feels like. But prayer can be powerful, and it can move mountains. However I also want to say that there are many things that I do not know about prayer and it was one of the doubts that I had for years. But my advice to you if you are reaching out to someone in a faith crisis..step up the prayer and be persistent.