God has promised us, He named us from the beginning and He holds us in the palm of His hands. I believe as God holds each of us in the palm of His hands, we also can hold others. In fact, we are able if willing, to hold the whole world in our hands through prayer.
My first published book entitled Praying A Circle Around The World, suggests we each can pray a circle around the world, by beginning within our own families and expanding our prayer to include all in need of prayer throughout the world.
To me prayer can and ought to surround all we do, say and think which means living in a prayerful frame of mind. A frame of mind, in which there is no room for thoughts of anger and hatred toward anyone. Our personal burdens are not a legitimate excuse for striking out verbally or physically at others. My fatigue, disappointment, physical or emotional pain do not give me permission to be abusive or intolerant of others.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Our world is full of weary and burdened people who need rest. Rest from the burdens of a head and heart filled with the emotions of anger, hatred and a desire to cause others to hurt, as they themselves are hurting. The hearts and heads of these people suffer from lack of love for self and others and lack of love from others. Emotions of anger and hatred for themselves and for others fill their hearts and heads causing them to strike out with vengeance toward others they perceive to be inferior or to be their enemies.
It comes as no surprise that abuse and violence breed abuse and violence. It is sad but adults begin to teach children abuse and violence from the time they are very young. The first time a parent strikes out in anger hitting a small child in the face or the head, that child knows abuse and violence. A seed of anger planted that day will grow and flourish in the form of temper tantrums and other angry behaviors as the child grows, unless love and kindness smother and kill its roots. If such behavior by parents continues, the child will become abusive and violent in time. The deepest emotion the child will bare is hatred of self from whence comes abusive and violent behavior.
No one who knows and experiences real love can ever comprehend the true emotions, which breed the abusive and violent actions of others. We who know love can only imagine the inner angry feelings and suffering of those who have never known or experienced a relationship of love. We can never understand the fear, the loneliness, the frustration they live with however, we can always offer understanding, concern and prayer for abusive and violent people.
We cannot say we love others as Jesus loves us until we can pray for those who are abusive and violent. Lack of love for self and others happens in the heart and mind of those who suffer from being, starved of love. The inner self when poisoned by the absence of love, lives in an anger, which often erupts into abusive and violent behavior. It is difficult at times to love such people but loving them is included, in the great commandment, which says, we are to love others as we love ourselves. Do unto others as you wish others would do unto you is not easy but is doable for all who really love God. If we do not love them, then who will even if it means we choke on their tears of sorrow and pain.
When Jesus washed, the feet of the Apostles He said to them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? ... I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you… Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them." John 13:12-17
Jesus was not simply telling the Apostles and us, to be nice to each other, to be hospitable to visitors, or to be kind to those with whom we share a meal. No, Jesus was telling them and He is telling us today, we must serve others to serve Him and in serving Him, we are serving the Father who loves, each of us, with an uncompromising love. The Father's fondness for each of us is unsurpassed by the love of anyone else.
Everyone is motivated in life by the presence of love or the absence of love. It is our personal experiences of love, which shape all of our relationships. We can easily fool others into believing we love them, because they have an interior need to feel loved. We can even convince our self of our love for others and for self however, we cannot fool God. Love is not an emotion it is devotion. Devotion, proven by our daily commitment to love and acceptance; it is loyalty, honesty, encouragement, faithfulness, and fidelity to God and others. In simple words, Love is showing others what God looks like!
When we live in the presence of God, we can reach out to others even in those times our heart is heavy and are spirit is weak. We can and we must reach out to those in need with whom we would not normally have a relationship. We do not have to invite them to our dinner table but we have a moral obligation, whenever possible, to assist those who do provide the type of service they need for nourishment of their hearts, minds and bodies. We do not really know how many people are alive at the end of a day, because we shared with the less fortunate, and softened a heart by a smile or word of encouragement. Broken hearts can be mended only by those who, love as Jesus loved.
In Psalm 34:18 we read, "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Our world is full of people whose spirit feels crushed. Among these, we find the violent people who know no other way to cope with the feelings of being broken-hearted, and whose crushed spirits seek an outlet for the emotions, which are strangling them. They do not know God loves them and will heal their brokenness, because others and we have neglected to love them as the Father loves them. We learn and teach others of the Father's love by loving them. To whom, have we revealed the love of the Father today? Was someone, neglected because we call him/her an enemy? Did someone stare back at us or smile back at us today?
Just anger is a part of life however too often we are not honest in our anger. We use the excuse of just anger to defend our unjust words and behavior sometimes, which are really our lack of self-control due to being frustrated, tired, weary or disappointed in our personal life. We have an inclination to strike out at innocent people in response to personal burdens.
In Psalm 139 we find David angry with those, he calls his enemies, because of their offenses against God. David was not seeking personal vengeance as he cried out to God to destroy his enemies who would not accept God. David was truly angry, the way a parent is angry when someone turns against his or her child. David's anger was the result of others refusal to worship and obey God as David did. This was not a legitimate reason for David to hate them and David's conscience bothered him, as it should have. Judgment of others, that is the work of God, it is not our right to judge, regardless of what others may do when we allow their behavior to affect our behavior. Rather than act, we react and when we do this, purity of intention is lacking.
David realized his anger lacked purity of intention and he called upon God to search his heart and mind, to examine his personal motives for asking God to destroy his enemies. Yes, David revealed his weakness but rather than striking out at his enemies, he went to God and sought direction. David was not seeking personal vengeance as we sometimes do.
We are inclined to strike out verbally or physically when angry, rather than seek God's direction as David did. We often do not turn to God asking Him to search our mind and heart; to reveal our sin; we allow the anger to take hold of our heart and mind. Anger leads us to bitterness, negativism and offensive behavior in our relationships with others; even those we profess to love, because many of us take our anger out on those who happen to be available at the time. Our self-control goes out the window and we strike out at the innocent bystander in our anger. This is what is happening now throughout our world. Innocent people are suffering at the hands of angry people whose anger is misplaced. If like David, we begin to plead with God to strike dead the perpetrators of evil then we are guilty of judging them. Our response to their behavior is prayer and God will do whatever is necessary in the area of judgment and punishment.
In prayer, we can ask God to bring them to their knees as He did Saint Paul; to soften their hearts, enlighten their minds to the evil they do; to strengthen their wills to lay down their guns and defuse their bombs and to seek peace over war. Prayer softens our own hearts and defuses our own anger as well!
Anger is a secondary emotion, which comes from fear. The cause of our anger with others comes not from what they do or say, but rather from the manner in which their words or actions appear to lessen us as a person. Our anger lies in our fear of injury to heart, mind, body or even our reputation. Our response to others is often dependent upon our frame of mind at moment of the encounter. Living in the awareness of God's presence helps us to act appropriately in all situations we encounter in life. When we live aware of His presence within us, we respond in a positive rather than negative manner in both positive and negative encounters with others.
Prayer is a simple thing to do! Prayer is talking with God and listening to God. Prayer keeps us connected to God, and with God, there are "no dropped calls" or broken connections. God never sleeps, God never looks the other way, and God never ignores our pleas. God always tells us the truth about others and ourselves. God loves us with a love, which has no boundaries, no limits, no excessive charges, and no fees. All God asks of us is to love Him and love others as our self. When we do this, we fulfill all of the requirements to one day, reach eternal salvation and see the face of God. If, we really live the two great commandments, deliberate sin against other commandments will no longer be an alternative in our life. Every other command of God is contained within these two commandments.
My prayer is that all who read this will pray now as they have never prayed before. Pray for families, friends, neighbors, evil men and women, men and women of violence and men and women who abuse others physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally. Pray for children being, abused and neglected in their own homes, some within our own neighborhood. If we look into the faces of children, we will see expressions of peace, which come from love or we will see fear and anger which come from lack of love. Too often, abuse and neglect are present in the home and the faces of children will reveal this. Pray for peace to enter the hearts and minds of men and women everywhere. Pray for the victims of natural disasters, war and spousal abuse. Pray for self above all else for the courage to be the voice, the hands, the heart and head of Christ present on earth, as we love and serve those in our family, neighborhood, workplace, city or town.