For the Benefit of Others — Part Deux

Drafted three days ago . . . published today . . . it’s a journey everyday, so if you’re reading, read on.

My devotional for the day said, “why do we pray out loud?”  You should know that praying out loud with others around or praying out loud for others, leading the prayer, all that stuff, used to terrify me.  And because it terrifies me, I get tongue tied, my mind blanks, I speak really really fast, and I don’t feel like I say everything that I need to or should because the fact that others are listening to me makes me nervous.  I prefer to pray silently, or aloud but by myself, just me and God.  Today, though, the devotion really boiled down to doing things for the benefit of others because according to the devotional content, we pray out loud because “One, it keeps our mind from wandering! And two, it can strengthen and encourage those who are listening” (“Pray” published by http://www.lifechurch.tv).

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead in John chapter 11, making audible these words from verses 41-42 right before he is about to perform the miraculous,

So they took away the stone.  Then Jesus looked up.  He said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me.  I know that you always hear me.  But I said this for the benefit of the people standing here.  I said it so they will believe that you sent me” (NIRV)

Sometimes we have to do things for the benefit of those around us, and that in itself is a powerful statement because it speaks to a selflessness that we often need to be reminded of.  Jesus didn’t have to say those words.  It’s not about something that he himself needs.  Like he said, he already had a relationship with God, his faith in what God could do and was going to do was already certain, and his words confirm that he knew already that God always heard him.  Yet, he thanks God and reminds us of God’s power so that WE can know and so that WE can believe.  For the benefit of others, right?

On a personal note, this devotion got to me when I read it because I’ve been asking my boyfriend to prove what he says he wants through his actions.  A lot of times, the little random devotion that I read each morning actually seems to have been handpicked for where I am in my life right now . . . God knows, right?  While what I am asking of my beau might benefit him in the long run, what I really need is for him to prove his actions for my benefit.  It’s not for him, it’s for me.  Sometimes we have to do things like that to help someone else believe.  It’s an act that requires us to step outside of self.  Our situation and what I am asking him to do for me is not directly religious, and you should note that.  Though, we may find that God will and should probably be glorified all the same in the successful outcome of my honey’s act of proof.  Nonetheless, I am asking boyfriend lover boy to essentially proceed as Jesus did in this verse realizing that sometimes we must allow others to SEE (or hear and then see) what we already know.  Perhaps my connection may be a bit of a stretch for you, but still I say, “Voila! Proof!”

This verse speaks in so many ways to me, and you need to read it for yourself and pray on how God wants it to touch you.  When I think about doing something for the benefit of others, I think about being giving, kind, and caring.  Now, I also think about helping someone believe.  I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t emphasize that in Jesus’ statement of publicly and audibly thanking God for hearing him so that those standing around him could hear is a direct correlation to glorifying God.  Amen!  Jesus makes this declaration for all to hear before he performs the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead so that those who witnessed would know where his power came from and who it was that sent him.  The action of his words rather than the action of his work reminds us that everything we do should be to bring glory to God.

In verses 41-42, Jesus acknowledges that it is not he who is raising Lazarus from the dead but God because without God’s power, without God hearing our prayers, nothing would be possible.  Imagine how powerful that testimony or prayer could be for someone who is listening.  For the benefit of others, right?  Go out and be selfless today (or tomorrow!).  Give glory and honor to God in what you do.  And do something to help someone else believe in God’s power and love today.

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For the Benefit of Others — Part Deux

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