Talk to God -or The Individual?

In a very good conversation I recently found myself commenting that on plenty of occasions I’ve found prayer for a person to be more effective than direct talk.I also recalled a number of situations through the years, especially early-on, when my wife joined with a few loving, trusted friends and rather than confront me directly on a point (which had been done several times with little success) they simply prayed for God to touch my heart, mind and attitudes in such a way as to bring about real enlightenment (mine!), repentance where needed and true character/behavioral change. And it worked :)The longer I live, the more the Lord convicts me about thinking and praying far more than direct confrontation.Mind you, there are those times when our leadership team ask me to deliver the difficult news (and of course we all get our turn).This is part of a leadership calling which is anything but fun -but there are times when it falls to me as to most anyone in such service to God and people.ALL of us get defensive, some (at certain times, or if the message is delivered not to our liking) are more defensive than others. Of course some smile a bit and act as if they’re listening but will not deal honestly with the issue in question. Often the thinking is “I’m right, you’re wrong, why do I have to listen to this” and that’s the end of it in a person’s own mind.But neither I nor anyone reading this has ever thought such thoughts, right?!In other words, we avoid change and few of us like confrontation, even those that God either calls for or allows to help bring needed change in our life.We each have the component of free will and only when God the Holy Spirit convicts and one is willing to accept the truth- sometimes ugly as it is about me or you- only at such times will a real spiritual transformation take place.I’m of course aware that some simply read the Truth in the Bible and apply it, or read a devo, hear a teaching, attend a seminar, conference or get counsel in another form, but relational person-to-person ministry is clearly a scriptural part of how we hear truth, learn to accept and apply it to our life.There are a number of great tools godly Christians may employ to help their brothers and sisters encounter God, hear His voice for themselves, grow and change.At times I (or you, perhaps) are -not- the person to bring the information to a particular person, couple or church.Fine! Really. Why?God is perfectly capable of bringing His sure Word to anybody, and He’s not bound by His church (people) as to whether He’s able to bring that Word no matter how numb, thick, even outright self-centered and rebellious they/we may be.He IS sovereign.At the same time as stated above, the Book is loaded with direct preaching, teaching, writing of letters and other means of person-to-person ministry to individuals and groups.Sometimes we’ve wronged people in our delivery, timing or even re. the facts of the situation. Nobody is mistake-free in communication… and I mean nobody.Sometimes we may have been (put bluntly) “casting pearls before swine”. A hard word, but one Jesus spoke to His disciples. There are those who just will not face up to what the most basic verses of Scripture mean in terms of their own need to deal with sin. It does not always matter who, how or when the truth is delivered, they are just not ready to face God or themselves. It’s important to not take it personally if at all possible, for if such is the case their beef is not with the messenger, but with Him. Returning evil for evil doesn’t edify anyone.Jesus tells us that the prodigal “came to himself”. A “self-revelation” with any truth in it comes from the Lord. When that happens, self-awareness and a real sense of humility, perhaps even remorse and despair can move us towards God and His people rather than into hiding or fighting and lashing out.But it can go either way and of course, does.I and many reading this have often found intensive prayer for a person, couple or group is the best way to lovingly serve them.Indeed, this can be a cop-out with you or I simply wanting to be liked and seeking to avoid difficult communication, issues and people. It is also, at times, the very wisdom of God to intercede for a person and watch God move.There are those who enjoy challenging, rebuking people. Believe it or not, I am not one of them. But I have learned that the real point is to be loving and consistent in prayer for those I don’t believe I can or should personally talk with.Certainly there are those in ministry “who have been burned”. I hear it all the time all over the world- from leaders nearly as often as congregational members. Guess what? ALL of us have burnt and been burnt. Yes.So what do we do? Withdraw? Hide out? Pretend “the elephant in the room” isn’t there? Quit ministry because of the pain involved?It is at this juncture that some should speak, some remain silent and all pray, pray and pray for God’s wisdom and grace. Often the good stuff happens by our talking with godly people who love the person(s) in question, who know the Word of God and who perhaps have a closer relationship to the extent they might accept good input from them.We must each and all check our own motives as well.Is my/your thinking, position on the matter, attitude toward the person(s) sourced in God’s loving care for them… or is it irritation, frustration at something in them you just don’t like? Is it a Bible doctrine, theological disagreement, is it methodological? Is the idea of direct discussion simply to get your way and ultimate control in the relationship or regarding the issue?One must humbly ask one’s self such questions. Love and truth are the key and must be the key focus.Prayer. Honest soul-searching. More prayer. Genuine care for the person is first of all expressed to God as it is His very own concern.As I age, I find I am no more happy about confrontation than ever- but I’m a great deal more apt to pray, be quiet or say far less than I think I know. I am working at being a much better listener and of course, trust the wisdom and gifts of others to minister to folks when I should not or cannot.Yet prayer is THE thing I do more for those who seem to be in need. They may never know I was even involved in such ministry to them. The point is spiritual growth, forward movement toward Jesus and His Word applied in a person’s life.In the end, it’s God “truthing in love”. Sometimes… sometimes, you and I are called to do it as well, but let’s not neglect the grace, power and effectiveness of prayer as opposed to direct talk.Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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