My friend Funky, yes, Funky, cuts a pretty intimidating pose. He's taller than me, which is fairly tall. He's tatted all over, with a pretty killer one on his throat reading, "Let The Dead Bury Their Own Dead" or something like that. He wears a leather jacket. He played in a great punk band back when he lived in Nashville. What I'm trying to say is the guy always struck me as a tough dude.
So I love it when I get text messages from him every morning with Bible verses and quotes by theologians. After my house caved in, destroying my Bible among other things, this was the only Bible I read. He found out about this and sent me an ESV paperback. He's just about everything I admire in people. He's punk and a solid Christian.
Today, I received a quote via Funky-text: "Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this: always obey such an impulse. - Martyn Lloyd-Jones" My pastor made a similar statement recently during a meeting. "There are some things you really don't need to pray about. 'Should I pray?' Yes. 'Should I tell this person about Jesus?' Certainly."
I know I've realized this in my own life. I once felt like God sent me to a particular floor of a particular library so I could pray for someone. I sat in a chair on that library floor without a single person walking in for over an hour. Then a guy popped his head around the corner and asked for directions. I didn't feel a good lead in to pray for him. He didn't have a cast on. There was no look of desperation in his eyes. I felt fear, panic, that I would scare the guy with my asking to pray for him. So I asked God, "Do you want me to pray for this man?" And to both my confusion and relief, I heard, "No." I gave the man directions and decided to wait for someone else.
After a few more lonely minutes, I felt God telling me to go home. I asked Him what happened. "You knew you were supposed to pray, but you were afraid. You didn't trust me even though you were acting obedient. I would rather have someone else pray for him than have you pray for him without faith."
The second half of Funky's text came from Phillipians 4, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." This leads me to think there's never a good time to feel anxious and always a good time to pray.
I wish I could say I've learned my lesson. I wish I could say I always pray for people when I notice the need or feel the impulse. But I don't. Not always. Maybe the more I think about Phillipians 4:6 and the library incident, the more I'll dismiss the discomfort of praying for people.
Feel free to pray for me to get better at this, should you feel the impulse.