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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How to Pray for the Brokenhearted

I sometimes spend the day on a teeter-totter of emotions when I find out about tragedies, especially when children are involved.  I have loved kids since before I realized I wasn't one anymore.  I was that little girl who always pushed around baby dolls, and loved her friends deeply, and cried when friends got hurt.  I loved to babysit, and knew early on that I wanted to be a teacher because I just love kids, and when I go any length of time away from daily working with kids, I feel a tremendous void in my life.  I know all people don't feel this way about kids.  I do know that all people feel this way about something.  I have a dear sweet aunt who is passionate about animal rights, and love love loves her 'kubs,' as she affectionately calls them.  I have friends who are passionate about many different things, and so different things break their hearts.  I get that.  God created us so very differently, that even our pain is different, and our response.  However, I think I've found something that may be a key in one of the ways we can pray.

I am struggling with two tragedies right now.  Get your tissues or skip to the next section.

A car accident yesterday happened locally, right outside the school where I did my first teaching, where I got my first job in a school as a special education para professional for a Kindergarten autism unit.  This car accident shattered me when I heard about it yesterday.  This morning I looked for more information to see if I knew the family from my time at the school.  I don't know them.  But, I know so many families like them.  This sweet, Godly family, had four cute little white kids, and then last year they decided to fulfill the command in James 1:27, and they added two beautiful little brown faces to their home by adopting.  In the car wreck yesterday, a semi truck collided with their SUV and hit it very hard, and made it flip.  Their five year old son was killed.  Two of the girls are in the hospital now.  The mommy was driving, and she has just been released from the hospital.  This is the latest news report about it.  If any of the facts are wrong, I sincerely apologize.  We need to be praying for the Brown family.

The other thing that I can't stop crying over when I think about it, is a cousin of a student I used to teach.  This sweet family has twin five year old boys, a little girl, and the mommy is pregnant right now with another girl.  One of those twin boys is fighting a losing battle with a brain tumor.  This is his sweet mom's latest, honest, heart wrenching post.  We need to be praying for the Sauer family.

This is what usually happens to me when I read about these kinds of things:
I have the initial shock,
"Oh God, NO! That is awful!"
Then my soft heart just breaks for them, and as the tears start falling I am thinking,
"Oh Lord, that is So. So. SAD.  Oh, God, pleeeeeeeeease help them!"
Then I often continue to think about that family/situation and just cry for them, and imagine if it was someone in my family, and I cry harder, and then I try to love my family more.  I continue to pray a super generic "God, please help them," kind of prayer every time they come to mind.

I have been convicted, that my generic prayer, though better than nothing, is NOT enough.  There are people who have the financial means to give, and oh yes, they should give.  This is not a post about money though, this is about prayer.  I saw this post tonight from Chatting at the Sky as God was already working in my heart about this.  This quote that Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, reminded me that He gave us the outline for prayer.  I have often used this outline to pray for my family and our own lives.  Today it hit me that Jesus never said, "Pray this only for yourself." or "Pray this only when you're in church." or "Pray this when you take communion." or "Pray this only when someone else starts to, so that your voices will sound cool saying the same words at the same time."  Nope.  He simply said "Pray like this."

This is what he said:
Matthew 6:9-13, New Living Translation
Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,[a]
12 and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,[b]
    but rescue us from the evil one.[c]
You may have memorized it like this:
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So.  We have an outline.  Let's take that outline and pray it for the brokenhearted.

{Please understand, that this is NOT what you need to say to the brokenhearted - they often do not need our words.  Hugs, food, crying with them, listening to them is what they need.  Don't SAY these words to a hurting person. PRAY these words for them, in your heart, or out of earshot.}

Verse 9: Our father in heaven, may your name be kept holy in this situation. Please help them to be strong enough to not curse you for this awful thing happening to their sweet family.  Help them to continue to see you as a father who loves them, who is holy, who does have a bigger, better plan in the midst of their pain.

Verse 10: May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Your will is always to draw people back to the love of Christ, so that your name will be glorified.  God, please use this situation to glorify you.  Somehow, bring beauty from these ashes, as only you can.  It was never the will or desire of this family for their child to die, so please be with them as they adjust to the new normal of having to accept this.  Please help them to continue to surrender to your will, to seek you, to find you, to accomplish your will.

Verse 11: Give them today the food they need.  God please provide for their basic needs, food, shelter, clothing, whatever needs they may have.  Call out people to bring them meals so they don't have to worry about it.  Touch people who know them to reach out and give to them.  This family is hurting and struggling with the pain of loss.  Please don't let them have to struggle with simple but annoying tasks like figuring out what to make for dinner.  Help me to provide a meal for them.

Verse 12: God please forgive me for any sin in my heart related to this.  I confess I am confused.  I know though, that the family experiencing the loss of a loved one, is in far more pain and suffering than I am.  Please forgive them for any sins they commit right now.  God, help them to be strong against sin, but help them to also feel your continuous comfort and love even when they do say or do things they will later regret, because they are hurting so much.  Lord, help them to forgive you.  It is natural for them to blame you and others.  Please help their hearts to heal, to forgive you even though it's not your fault.  I know this is the result of living in a sin-filled, fallen world, but God, that is not very comforting.  Help them to forgive themselves if they harbor guilt about it.  Help the mother who was driving to let go of the guilt that is sure to come.  Help the family to forgive the driver of the semi truck.  Bring forgiveness to their hearts, so that they can heal.

Verse 13:  Don't let them yield to temptation, but protect them from the evil one.  God help them to fight the temptation to blame you, to get totally depressed, to stop parenting the living children they have because they can't stop mourning the dead. Help them to fight the temptation to lash out at each other in anger.  God help them to fight the temptation to numb themselves to the pain by using something that will hurt their bodies.  Lord, help them fight the temptation to run away from it all, to run emotionally and mentally become withdrawn or closed off to each other and to love, or to run physically by abandoning their families or even considering suicide.  God, help them fight temptations.  Protect them from the lies Satan is going to throw at them.  Protect them from the pain that may want the parents to get so far away from each other, and the memories of their babies that they think divorce is the answer.  Protect them from the media being callous in any dealings with their painful situation. Rescue them from the pain.  Be their comforter. God, help them to run to you now.

I'm not an expert by any means.  I am not saying that any family should react to grief one way or another.  I am saying, that as the Body of Christ, when we hear about tragic events and then we can't stop thinking about them, it is because we are supposed to intercede on their behalf through prayer, and possibly to give monetarily, or make meals, or give in other ways.  I am not saying that this is a perfect script for every situation.  I am saying that we should be more purposeful in our prayers, and using the Lord's prayer as our guide is one way to start.  Pray for people who are hurting, and pray with a purpose.  I am learning the power of this right now in my life.  I hope this helps someone.  Lift up specific prayers for people when your heart goes out to them.


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