“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23a
We all have people we love to criticize, don’t we? Just seeing them makes us think a negative or critical thought. When we talk about them, we start and end with something critical. Who comes to mind? Maybe it’s an athletic opponent or a long-time rival; maybe it’s a politician or someone in the media; perhaps there’s even a family member or former friend where the relationship has turned sour. Let’s just assume that the people who came to your mind as you read these words deserve your criticism, that your criticism is valid.
Some time ago I realized that there are people who I don’t think about or talk about without being critical. God convicted me of my responsibility to pray for them. If I was going to spend time and energy criticizing them—even if my criticism was valid—I should take the initiative to pray for them as well. I should pray for their salvation, and for God to work in their lives. That day I committed myself to praying for people I found myself criticizing. My goal was to pray for them more than I criticized them.
Reread today’s focal verse, Samuel justly criticized the Israelites, but he also regarded it as sin if he failed to pray for them. That is in keeping with God’s standard. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-45a, 48)
In a world where criticism comes easy, let’s make sure we pray more than we criticize. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come naturally, but it’s important because it’s God’s way.
Who do you criticize more than you pray for? Will you commit to praying for them more than you criticize them?
Having begun as a guest speaker in 2005, Dan was appointed Interim Pastor in 2008 and has been serving Maple Root Baptist ever since. As a small group leader and Chaplin for the Connecticut Tigers, Dan has a heart for the lost and the God that saves them.