It’s a privilege to pray for others. Absolutely. But as I surf my facebook page, read my email, and watch the news, it’s overwhelming how much pain and heartache there is out there. I recently saw a facebook post about a family who lost a young child to a tragic drowning accident. Someone in my homeschool support group has a strange brain virus. If I see another picture of that adorable toddler left to die in a hot car in Georgia, I’m going to scream. Nigerian girls kidnapped and sold into slavery or married off by force to Muslim men. I just can’t handle it all!
I can turn off the news, but what about the shared prayer requests from Christians all over the country and around the world? I’m coming to the conclusion that my heart can only hold so much. If I fill it up too much then I tend to become callous just to protect myself from becoming a complete nervous wreck.
Before this crazy age of technology and information overload through things like facebook, twitter and the internet in general, we only knew about the needs that were in our sphere of influence. That’s do able. There’s a guy from my church who is married with two young kids who recently had a double lung and heart transplant. I follow his facebook posts loyally and pray for him and his family daily. He’s within my circle. I can handle that.
Another family from my church recently had five kids left as orphans because the parents died in a car accident. That’s horrific and tragic, but within my circle. I didn’t know them personally, but they’re still part of my church.
So, I think I’m going to try and limit my exposure (as much as possible) and involvement to local tragedies and needs and things within my natural sphere of influence. I’m not saying I won’t pray for people around the world. Information has its advantages. We support a boy in Brazil and an orphan girl in South Sudan. I’ve brought them into my sphere of influence and pray for them. I also have friends who live out of town. I would also consider them in my sphere. It’s the random family across the country or even across the state who I’ve never met – I just can’t handle it all.
The other thing is that with local situations and other people I’ve chosen to become involved with, I can do something tangible as well as praying. With my transplant friend, I can support his wife’s business by purchasing from her. I can go to fundraisers for the five orphaned kids to raise money for their care. I can write letters to my kids in other countries and send them care packages. I can make a meal for a family with sick parent.
I can’t do everything. Nor can my heart hold everything. If I focus my efforts and prayers on people within my circles, I can do just that – focus. I can do more good that way rather than stretching my heart and hands thin over every problem that exists in the world.
Maybe there’s a cause that really tugs at your heart – abortion or human trafficking or children with cancer. Get involved! Dive in and pray and serve. Invite that cause into your circle of influence and do some good. Just don’t try to do everything and don’t feel guilty when you just say no.
Am I being callous? I’m actually trying not to be. Is God more likely to work in a situation because 10,000 people across the country are praying for them rather than their 100 closest friends, family, and church family? I suppose this could go in a whole other direction of how prayer works and why we pray and all. I don’t understand it all well enough to even begin to go there. I just find it hard to believe (and support Biblically) that before the age of technology and mass communication that God worked less because fewer people were praying about a given situation.
What do you think? I’m curious how other people handle this…