We were laughing and talking, meeting new friends, and renewing old acquaintances in the brand new house. It was a little noisy. The babies were completely precious. Oh, and the couch was very comfortable!
Then someone spoke up…
“Can I have your attention?!? One of our friends is going on stage right now to share the gospel with a large group of students. Can we take a minute to pray for him?”
What followed was a moving and sincere fifteen minutes of prayer as we lifted our friend and those students up to Jesus. Afterwards I noticed a palpable difference in the room. Some of these people were completely new to me, but after spending some time in prayer together there was a stronger sense of community. A stronger sense of belonging.
That got me thinking about the power of prayer. When we pray, we are earnestly going before the throne of God Almighty with praise and supplication. It is valuable and necessary and beautiful. How does praying with other people impact our relationship with them, though? How are our horizontal relationships changed when we join together in our vertical relationship? I think it gives us a sense of intimacy that can lead to substantial relationship growth and even to trust. Honestly, I think this is a fantastic thing, but like most good things it can be abused…and this is where I am headed today.
Friends, we must guard ourselves lest we take advantage of the sense of intimacy we have with a person due to prayer for our own gain. We must also guard ourselves so we are not taken advantage of. This is particularly important in our relationships with Christian businesses. Many of the folks who work with Christian businesses or non-profits are honest in their desire to glorify God in their work with their customers and prayer is a natural outlet for this desire. However, some workers are nearly transparent in their attempts to connect with customers through prayer as a method of developing consumer trust. This is abusive. It is manipulation. And it is wrong.
How do we notice this? How do we guard against it?
First, let’s check ourselves. God will not be mocked, y’all. If you are one of these Christian workers who finds themselves praying with customers regularly, BE SURE of your motives. We must never, EVER go before the throne of God flippantly or with ulterior motives.
Next, if you are a consumer… and yes, adoptive parents working with adoption agencies are consumers … be aware and pay attention. If you feel prayer time is being misused, you must put a stop to it and you must be cautious in your business relationship. If there is even a hint or a “vibe” of manipulation, be sure you are not going on someone’s word. Get everything in writing. Well, you should do that anyway. And be straightforward. If you feel the prayer time you share with the business person is not God honoring, tell them.
Let’s hold each other accountable. Because ultimately, we are accountable to God Almighty.