Praying Or Preying?

August 24, 2015

James 4:11, 12; 5:14-16

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

It’s a play on words, the title of this blog – Praying Or Preying?

•      To Pray for someone is to intercede with God on that person’s behalf.  James 5:14 through 16 gives a good example of praying for someone in the context of healing:

      Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and
      let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 
      And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. 
      And if he have committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Confess your trespasses
      to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The
      effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Now, I am learning a lot about healing.  I have seen God’s miracles in this matter over the years, and I want to see more.  After all, Jesus Himself said in John 14:12, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”  But the purpose of this blog is not to emphasize healing, but praying – in healing, and many other situations, as James said in verse 16, “…pray for one another….

Epaphras – a companion of Paul who probably founded the church at Colosse (see Colossians 1:7) – visited the apostle when he was imprisoned in Rome.  Paul twice mentioned him in his letter to the Colossian Christians.  And in 4:12 he lifts him up as an example of a prayer warrior:

      Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, greets you, always labor-
      ing fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in
      all the will of God.  For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you….

Intercession – praying for others’ good – is heartily endorsed in the Bible, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Himself setting the example (see Romans 8:27; Hebrews 7:25).

•      To Prey on someone meansto have a wearing or destructive influence.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary).  And too many times it is Christians who engage in preying on someone, and leaving behind…a wearing or destructive influence.”  How is this done?  Usually by gossip!  Again, it is James to whom we turn for a defining scripture – James 4:11 and 12:

      Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.  He who speaks evil of a brother
      and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law.  But if you
      judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one Law-
      giver, who is able to save and to destroy.  Who are you to judge another?

Speaking evil of another person is gossip!  And there are several prohibitions in scripture against gossip!

•      Leviticus 19:16 – “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor:  I am the LORD.”  God’s Word Version succinctly puts it this way:  “Never gossip.  Never endanger your neighbor’s life.  I am the LORD.

The two ideas go together – gossip and endangering your neighbor’s life – because gossip can be a killer – of reputation, of relationships, of a fruitful life.  Malicious gossip has resulted in cases where the target of the gossip has become so despondent, that one commits suicide!

•      Proverbs 11:12 and 13 – “He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace.  A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

•      Proverbs 17:9 – “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates the best of friends.

•      Proverbs 18:8 (Young’s Literal Translation) – “The words of a tale-bearer are as self-inflicted wounds, and they have gone down to the inner parts of the heart.

•      Proverbs 20:19 (Good News Bible) – “A gossip can never keep a secret.  Stay away from people who talk too much.

•      II Corinthians 12:20 – “…I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults….

•      I Timothy 5:13 – Younger women who are widows “…learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.

Why have I put these two ideas together – Praying Or Preying?  Is it just because it is a play on words?  No, it is because too often over 43 years as a pastor, I have found some people seek information …so I can better pray about it….  But really, they just want the dirt about the situation so they can pass it on as gossip!  May that never be the case with you!

Leave a Reply