4th November 2019

Don’t Just Hear, Listen!

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
James 5:16 (AKJV)

We all come across sad stories in life. Bitter things happen to human beings; and human beings are often bad news to other human beings. This is often emphasised big time among those involved in ministry, whether religious or in secular counselling. As a minister, I hear stories that are otherwise not aired. People like to keep their troubles private. But sometimes despair and hopelessness will open them up to a sympathetic ear. It’s not as though even the experts always have solutions. Sometimes the trauma is not caused by the people involving you, but others who are causing it to happen to them.

Then what do you say?
“Well, just pray more, and God will change the situation according to his ineffable will.” That may be true, but it’s of no help to the people involved here and now. It actually increases their distress. And it may already be causing them not only heartache, but physical and mental problems too.
So what can we say?
“Surrender to God’s will!” That might be a solution, but it’s more along the lines of “Well, he as a minister would say that, wouldn’t he?”
And that other fall-back position doesn’t help either: “It will all get sorted when God’s kingdom comes.”

People need to know that you will listen to them without prejudice. Make it obvious that you will listen. Not just hear, but listen, and attentively. I was trained to listen carefully in my previous profession. People deserve to be listened to in full. I might ask the occasional question to clarify, but mainly I listen. And at the end, though I might despair that I have no other solution, I tell such people that I will pray for them, and I do, without fail. I’m a great believer in prayer, and in faith in prayer. I believe that people praying for other people is one of the most powerful tools a loving God has given us. When I was ill, I was buoyed up to know that other people were praying for me. Others have said the same thing. And I believe it’s helpful for people, who have no other comfort, no other help, no solution to their problem in sight, just to know that someone else is supplicating the Great God of heaven on their behalf. Short term, it may change nothing. Day-by-day it may make no difference, but somehow it does seem to make a difference. And, frankly, that’s what Christianity is all about—making a difference in other people’s lives.

Merciful Father, thank you for the matchless privilege of bringing other people’s problems before your throne, airing their bitterness, that they are powerless to change things, and knowing that you, the Great God have already provided the solution….We just have to catch up with it. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford


About the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School, Room A1 (Main Building)
Honey End Lane
RG30 4EL

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone: 01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

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