CAN I BE PARTIAL IN MY PRAYERS?
I believe Jesus singled out people, who needed direct attention in prayer. In the Gospel of John, John Zebedee is the closest to Jesus; yet, it is for Peter Jesus prayed the most. “Prayer served as an edge and a border to preserve the web of life from unraveling” (S.S. p.192). Peter was fortunate to have Jesus pray for the web to stay in tact and spare Peter from a disastrous fall. Luke 22: 31-32 preserved this incident, “Simon, Simon, watch out! Satan has been let loose to sift you as one sifts wheat. But I have prayed for you in order that your faith will not stop. And when you turn around, support your brothers.”
Jesus’ concern for Peter and not so for the other disciples is provocative. It does make me wonder, why Jesus singled him out? And it reminds me of a time when my wife’s mother stayed with us. She was disabled and I was sick in bed with a high fever and my wife was at work. This lady managed to get out of her chair and began to assist me, and kept telling me that I could not die because they all depended on me. She, herself, and a younger sister lost their parents in their teens. She was forced to marry an older man in order to survive in Soviet Russia. My sudden illness brought back to her that tragic time when they had lost their providers. Years later, I had cancer and the diagnosis was not favorable. My first concern was my wife and family. At that time, we were not prepared to face eternal separation alone and neither the financial burden. The Lord has added eighteen more years to my life and I am still needed; but I have been negligent, in including myself, in my prayers. We have a tendency to take for granted those, who lead and provide for us. My mother-in-law did not take me for granted. I believe, Jesus did not take Peter for granted because He needed him to continue his mission.
There is a time when to be partial, and a time when not to be partial. Being partial, in handing out favors at the cost of another person’s rights, is not acceptable. With regard to pressing needs and personal preferences, the Scriptures allow us to be partial. Jesus was very particular in choosing his closet associates (Lk. 9:57-62). Paul left us this a bit partial comment, ”So then, has you have opportunity, let us to good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). It is not what the Good Samaritan did. What would he do if his own brother would lie beside the stranger on the road? Paul offered this answer, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim. 5:8). To me, this is the prerequisite to all my prayers. I am responsible to God for my family above everyone else. It is He, who created the family for me (Gen. 2:18). When Jesus said, “he who loves son and daughter more than me” (Mt. 10:37), He gave no one a license to neglect his family and trample the world in his name. A father is a servant, whom the Lord has put in charge to feed the entire household, not just his wife and children (Mt. 24:45). Children, who dishonored their parents and put them out to tend for themselves in their old age, Jesus regarded as an outright violation of God’s law (Mk. 7:9-13). Jesus, Himself, set an example when He provided for his mother before He died on the cross (Jn. 19:26-27).
I am proud to be a husband and a father. My wife and I are proud of being parents of three sons, who have enriched us with daughters-in-law and eight wonderful grandchildren. They are not just in our prayers, but also in our budgets. We used every penny we could lay our hands on during the economic meltdown to help them. We have never left them out of a parent-children relationship, neither have our children left us out of theirs. We are honored whenever we are asked to help them in many ways and at a moments notice and so are our children when we need anything necessary. God put it into our nature to be caring for each other. Jesus told his disciples, “If then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. So whatever you wish that men do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt. 7:11-12). The most important gift God has promised was “A long life for a nation” (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16).
Please note, that I must pray for gifts that are beneficial and not detrimental. Jesus asked this question, “Who among you, if your son asks you for bred, will you give him a stone? Or if he asks you for a fish, will you give him a serpent” (Mt. 7:9-10)? Our answer would be, of course we would not do it intentionally. Then, we have no control over what our children will do; but do children or parents control their minds when they use their gifts? We let our oldest boy take the van and drive a group of boys to the ball game. The game ended late and our son was not licensed to drive in the dark. His friend drove back, unloaded most of the lads except our second son, who was asleep on the middle bench behind the driver. The driver stopped, got himself drunk and then totaled the van. Fortunately, no one got hurt and we did not damage the driver’ character with a jail sentence. My sister let her younger boy go with a wild bunch to a lake. The boy never jumped into anything with his headfirst. Yet, that evening he did and was brought up as a quadriplegic. A cousin in anger hit a tree, and now lives in a wheelchair. She is plagued by the question, “Where was my mind?” I too have been asking that same question for sixty-three years, “What was I thinking, holding a lit fuel lamp in my hands and standing on an icy floor?” I feel and suffered seventy five percent burns from my knees to my head. I was not thinking at all. I was not partial enough about myself. It is that lack of concern for ourselves and for those we love, that gets us into hornet’s nests. I should be far more partial about my intentions and actions, especially with regard for my loved ones.
Being partial is a paternal and maternal instinct. We think of sheep as being dumb. When a mother sheep loses her baby, she will not nurse an orphan that lost her mother. Herders take the skin of the lamb and wrap the orphan, and even then the mother gradually accepts the orphan as her own. Love is not the same for all of us, because we were intended to be partial to our own. Even when we pray for others, we are partial in a good way. We take a natural liking toward the people that make themselves partial, also in a good way. I am leaving you with this thought, “For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:5-6).