I listened to a podcast by a big-deal pastor that I generally really like, but this time I didn’t agree with him. Short story: he was getting ready to fly to some huge, extremely foreign continent and do his mission thing (definitely great stuff), when a woman in his congregation asked to pray for him. Sure. Pray, lady. Go for it. Only problem: she said “Lord, be with __________.” He went. He came back. And he made an example of that woman by telling everyone that she was stating the obvious. OF COURSE, GOD—the creator and master of the Universe—is with him. He (whose name must not be spoken) is with all of us at all times whether we acknowledge him or not. He is always present. SO be more specific. Don’t use “be with.” (Sarcastic)
Ok. Dear Lord, please protect Pastor ______from contracting the Ebola virus and dying while he is over there ministering to the hundreds and hundreds of folks suffering from the Ebola virus. OH, by the way, please heal all the infected people. In Jesus name, Amen.
I soooo beg to differ with the use of with! In Isaiah 41 (one of the best chapters to read whenever you are feeling fearful and overwhelmed—which for me is pretty much a weekly affair), God tells Isaiah to tell the folks, “Do not fear, for I am WITH you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”
Here’s my beef with not using “with.” Sometimes I really don’t know what someone I care about is going through, but I know it’s something hard. When I pray, “Lord, please be with _________,” I am crying out to God to accompany that person—to be present during their suffering. And of course, He is. But what is wrong with praying, “be with”?
Addendum: I try to avoid the “vomit” prayers—you know—the ones you “throw up” to God without any real thought. I try to enter his presence first. Sounds mystical, huh? I guess it is. Our God is Spirit. What I mean is that I close out the world’s sounds and distractions, I get in a place where I can focus on the people I want to pray for—lots of times I have a list in my prayer journal. No TV. No iPad. No music (though music can be great, it distracts because I start singing). I like to have my Bible open to a favorite verse or chapter. No magic, here. Just faith, love, devotion, trust, obedience. And repentance. The stage is set.
Again. NO MAGIC. Discipline and faith. And then I pray. If I am praying for my sons, David and Eric, or my daughter, Katie, I may not know what is going on in their deepest places. So, I cry out to God to be with them. To be with David that he might know and trust God. To be with Eric that he might grow as a husband and father. To be with Katie that she won’t get too tired and worn out and stressed from her job. And sometimes it’s just a “Be With.” Please, please, be with—accompany them. Guide them.
“With” is a very important preposition because it diminishes loneliness.
And the red lipstick? Somedays I pray that my Father will be with me because I’m scared. I may be moving west, away from my daughter and parents and friends and colleagues. And I am finishing my MEd—Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Adolescent Literacy. THESIS! DEFEND THE THESIS. Moving and writing massive thesis don’t go together in my brain. So some mornings, I need a little sass to go along with my “with” prayer; thus, the red lipstick.
No make-up. Hair frizzing all over the place. But when I slide on MAC’s “Retro” red lipstick, I feel like everything is going to be fine. As long as I can put the red lipstick actually on my lips and not the surrounding area, I’m ok.
Yes, that’s a very loose analogy. Prayer with lipstick. What can I say, it works for me. Red lipstick WITH Isaiah 41 WITH prayer=surviving another day.