“Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40
“Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me'” Luke 12:13
Their whine was unmistakable. Two people, frustrated with the actions of their siblings, approached Jesus for help. What better way to corral someone into compliance than to have The Master reprimand them? Put Jesus on the job, stand back and reap the benefits.
Have you tried this before? Did it work? Prayers of this nature are just manipulation clothed in religious jargon – spiritual witchcraft. Don't dabble there.
Jesus not only ignored Martha's request, He commended and defended her sister Mary's actions which directly conflicted with the cultural norm. To the man at odds with his brother about the distribution of an estate, Jesus flat out refused to intervene. He did, however, go on to give a discourse on the evils of greed. Ouch!
Jesus cares about the situations in our lives that cause us distress. Even small details don't slip by Him unnoticed. He won't take orders from us to finagle others for our convenience and benefit. Dictate to Him what He NEEDS to do and we'll find Him unresponsive to our demands.
Would Jesus have been upset with a few dust bunnies, a sandwich and not a full course dinner at Martha's spic-n-span house? What if the man, without an agenda for personal gain, asked Jesus to help his brother administrate the estate? What if the duo requested assistance to understand the actions of their siblings. Those types of prayers Jesus loves to answer.
Instead of begging Jesus to fix someone else, we should suggest that He concentrate His efforts on us. We can still pray for those caught in destructive behavior patterns and toxic attitudes. How we ask God to work in them is the difference. If we want to see them through His eyes and from His perspective, He'll show us. If they need angelic help and protection that enables them to fulfill His destiny for their lives, He'll provide it. We can find out how He's praying and then agree with Him.
When it comes to prayer we've all suffered from Foot in Mouth Disease. Even with the best intentions we could muster, we've missed the mark and prayed amiss. God has graciously ignored us at those times. Don't beat yourself up – no one benefits from that.
How about you? What people or situations would you like to see change? What is your attitude? If you're like Martha or the unnamed man, how can you shift and change direction? What would be a more effective way to pray? Change your focus, re-word your requests and watch situations and people (mostly yourself) be transformed.