Questionable Reasons People Seek Prayer Ministry
Two Common, but Highly Questionable Reasons that People Seek Prayer Ministry
People are typically motivated by two things when seeking help: to gain sympathy for the bad things that have happened to them, or to find a solution to make the bad feelings go away – or both.
Offering sympathy and even more so, empathy to someone who is in a “bad” place can be helpful. As fellow members of the Body of Christ, we are called to “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15) and “… comfort … with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:4). There is a time and place for both sympathy and empathy, but there is also a time for action. If sympathy and empathy is all that the person receives, then the result for him will be unhelpful.
If seeking sympathy or empathy is a means for avoiding taking responsibility for the pain in our lives, then it has become a hindrance and not a benefit. When tragedy strikes a person’s life bringing genuine loss, the Body of Christ should come alongside the grieving person and “weep with those who weep.” We can also express genuine empathy for the lie-based pain someone feels since we too believe lies. So then, there is a “… time for weeping …,” but there is also a time for taking ownership of what we feel and believe.
It is hard to feel sorry for those deliberately limping around with a thorn in their foot. It is not uncommon for a person to limp from counselor to counselor seeking sympathy, but never having the obvious attended to.
Our offering sympathy and empathy to an emotionally troubled soul should include encouragement for him to take the next step toward freedom. The long term focus must be on mind renewal and transformation.
When a person comes for prayer, carrying the pain of his own lie-based belief, we can offer sympathy and even some measure of empathy, since we too harbor lie-based pain. But we must not camp there with them for too long. There is little to gain about feeling sorry for the pain we feel that is caused by the lies we believe. At some point, they have to be willing to gear up and tear down the protective shields they have erected, laying bare what they have hidden. Choosing to take personal responsibility for what we feel – in the face of blatant injustices, undeserved mistreatment and wrongful actions brought against us – is an indication of a maturing heart. The immature person is prone to make excuses, blame others and self-medicate – never taking responsibility for their own belief.
It is hard to be empathetic with the one who knows that he has a thorn in his foot and yet still chooses to limp around on it while blaming others for his pain. I acknowledge that most people coming for ministry do not know that the pain in their foot is from their own belief. They have logically and rationally come to the conclusion that someone or something is causing them to feel what they do. I agree that it does appear to be a logical conclusion that something outside of ourselves is causing the pain we feel, but this simply is not so. The feelings we are experiencing are not caused by any person or circumstance. Rather, the person or circumstance has merely “triggered” feelings already resident within us.
For example: John’s boss never acknowledges anything that John does, but only criticizes him. John was recently passed over again for a promotion and therefore believes he is worthless – a reject – and feels discouraged. If it were true that John’s emotional status is governed by what goes on in his external world, then his emotions would be justified and reasonable. This would mean John could never feel better unless his world organized itself around what he wants and believes he deserves. This is never going to be the case.
This viewpoint also runs contrary to God’s written truth that says, “May the Lord of peace Himself grant you peace in EVERY circumstance” (2 Thess. 3:16). If we do not have peace in EVERY circumstance, then something is wrong. This verse does not suggest changing the circumstance to know peace, but rather to know peace in the midst of the circumstances.