I came across this verse the other day, and realized that it is the perfect, all-occasion prayer:
You really can pray this for anyone, at any time. We all can be more loving, and since the Bible says that God is love, praying this for ourselves or for other people can make a big difference in our lives and theirs, too.
I’m thinking of some people I know who seem to be profoundly unhappy. The way that they speak and act clearly shows the depths of their discontentment, even though – from my perspective – they seem to have attained what the world has defined as material success.
There is a quote by Rick Warren that seems very apt to me: “Hurt people hurt people.” There seems to be a great deal of wisdom in his words.
When people feel unloved (and they may not even realize this), my observation is that they try to substitute this hole in their hearts with things that can never ultimately satisfy them or bring lasting peace. Often, they believe that the next thing (promotion, relationship, car, etc.) will make them feel whole again, but it never does.
The Bible actually has much to say about this topic, but the verse that comes to mind for me is this one:
“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NLT)
I am thinking of one individual in particular, and I believe that he has realized the vast majority of his dreams (after a lot of hard work on his part). However, there is no room in his life for God, as far as I can tell, even though he gives intellectual assent to the basic tenets of Christianity. When asked, he makes no bones about it: he’s not angry God or anything; rather, this man is busy doing other things that seem to be of greater interest to him.
Anyway, so long as he continues to fill his life with things that he can accumulate, there never will be any room for God. Our paths crossed for a season, and there was much that I learned from and through him. I came to understand the depths of my own wounds, and also better appreciated the ways in which I was trying to fill the hole in my heart with unworthy things (and people, too).
And just because you have a hole in your heart doesn’t mean it’s because of a romantic situation. Some of us carry hurts from our past that have to do with family, and others of us have gone through situations where there might of been deprivation or grief of some kind. Whatever the cause, I believe that all of us have “heart holes” of various sizes; the wise among us, however, have come to recognize that there is no other person or thing you use to close the gaps in our hearts.
In my opinion, that is where this verse from 1 Thessalonians comes into play. After all, why fuss about, trying to cover up our wounds and hurts with other people and things, when we can simply pray to God and ask for Him to fill us and those we know with His love? God’s approach is much quicker (and more economical, too!).
So now, when I reflect on those people I mentioned earlier – the ones who seem so unhappy, or simply are too preoccupied with their own lives to deal with the hurts sitting just below the surface in their hearts – I am thankful today because I now have a prayer that I can offer on their behalf. I am where I am today by the grace and love of God (and the scores of loving people He has sent into my life over the years!), and if the Lord can transform me, then He can surely do so for somebody else, too.
I’ll close with my prayer for today, taken from 1 Thessalonians. Is there someone in your life who could benefit from this prayer?
In Your name I pray, Amen.