Faith without works, James famously said, is dead! (Jas 2:17, 26). That cannot be taken to mean that faith in Jesus isn’t important, but if it is to count for anything it must result in changes in us: new faith-driven, or Jesus-led, attitudes and actions – of which there are many kinds:
- Hands-on help for those around us who need it;
- Giving time to go and work with stricken people, here or elsewhere, who may need far more fundamental help with their lives, like victims of disaster (natural or man-made);
- Giving money to support others in worthy causes like these, through trustworthy channels;
- Speaking up for the vulnerable, in speech or writing, that they may be defended against injustice, which may lead us to political involvement, and will require careful understanding of the issues.
- Speaking to God in prayer about all these people, their problems, those in power over them, workers in the field, and about those who organise local programmes of assistance.
One organisation which facilitates all such ‘works’, usually by initiating or by funding and encouraging local church-based initiatives, is Tearfund, whose practical action is motivated by Christian concern. Their aim is to make people better able to cope with the pressures they face. With them you can volunteer, work, learn, lobby, donate and pray. We go to a local Tearfund prayer group in the Shipley area, which meets monthly in one another’s homes, to learn about their work and pray for its furtherance. If you’d be interested, do please get in touch.
Roy Lorrain-Smith (01274 593955)
The WEEKLY prayers for January 2019 are:
Week 1 Father God, who cares profoundly for all your children, present and potential, please make us caring helpers, especially of those in direst need, here or far off. Amen.
Week 2 Father God, making order out of chaos, please help us organise our lives by your priorities, that we may make time for those who need it most, and with caring love. Amen.
Week 3 Father God, Creator, whose resources are lavishly unlimited, please bring us to that point of trust in you that we too may be generous with others, even with our money. Amen.
Week 4 Father God, whose words are our hope, please overcome our shyness to speak up, both in prayer to you and out loud, on behalf of the oppressed, that they may have hope. Amen.
Your own prayers
“Methodists” were mockingly labelled for being ultra-regular in their devotions and duties (few might be so guilty today), but it has become a respected denominational title. “God botherer” is a current abusive term for Christians, although it originally meant someone who persistently speaks to people about God, even when unwelcome. (Even fewer of us would be so guilty.)
But whoever it first referred to, and however rude it is now meant to be, it is an absolutely perfect name for determined, God-appointed intercessors, such as the watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, taking no rest, and giving God no rest, until he established his kingdom as a praise in all the earth. Like Isaiah himself, they were compelled to pray by the promises of God (Is 62:1, 6-7).
David was one such, urgently moved to find the proper place for the symbol of God’s presence in the kingdom (Ps 132: 1-5), and Anna was another. She devoted her long life to pray for God’s promised Messiah to come and restore his kingdom, and she was not alone (Lk 2:37-38). Jesus declared that we ought always to pray for God’s kingdom to come, and never to lose heart (Lk 18:1). We are to pray without ceasing – and thankfully, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us – as we look forward to the completion of his kingdom, when Jesus will come again (1 Thes 5:1-2, 17-18). When he comes, this is the faith he wants to find on earth (Lk 18:8). So let’s be God botherers, while always trusting him absolutely as to when and how he responds to our importunity.
The WEEKLY prayers for February 2019 are:
Week 1 Heavenly Father, whose own Son Jesus suffered abuse during his days on earth, please give us all fortitude to withstand today’s mockery and sidelining of “Christian”. Amen.
Week 2 Lord God, please give us vigilance to watch and pray at all times, alert to the ways of the world around us and of your hand in its affairs, that your kingdom may come. Amen.
Week 3 Precious Father, thank you for the many examples of intercessors in the Bible. Help us to do likewise in our time and place, praying down your promises, through Jesus. Amen.
Week 4 Lord God, Sovereign Creator and Immaculate Planner, yet loving Father of your errant children, please give us your spirit of intercession, and faith to go on praying, thankfully. Amen.
Your own prayers