Every time there is a natural disaster, and there is a new one at least once a day, we are told to pray for the place where it happened.
Pray for Houston
Pray for Texas
Pray for Florida
It just got me thinking: Why? What does this mean? Where does praying for a geographical region come from?
I’m honestly not trying to be snide here. I’m trying to understand something. Getting to the root. In no way am I trying to encourage people to pray less!
The closest thing I can see from Scripture is Psalm 122:6, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Mixed in with this psalm is a longing for The Kingdom and the Davidic promises fulfilled. “Peace in Jerusalem” means the Messiah came. It’s a longing for Messiah, not some sort of generic prayer for a geographic region.
Every other usage of “pray for” in the Bible is directed at people. No doubt “Pray for Houston” means pray for people in Houston. But then again, I don’t pretend to know what any Christian means by any of the words they use.
There is an idea within Christianity that the more people who pray for something, the more likely it is to occur. People assume that if so many people pray the same thing, God will hear the prayer and act.
I have no idea where this is from Biblically. The closest I can come is that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, so your odds of getting one of those to pray increases with the more people who pray!
Other than that, I see nothing in the Bible that if Christians all agreed to pray really hard for some geographical location that disasters would go extinct there.
The Bible is pretty clear that disasters happen to the righteous and the unrighteous. Time and chance happens to them all.
Again, I’m not telling you not to pray! We don’t pray enough as it is. I’m rather encouraging people to pray more specifically. Pray for the church in Houston, for specific believers there, to show the love of Christ. Pray for people you actually know who are affected.
Quite frankly, I don’t normally pray for places where I don’t know anyone. I’m not telling you to follow my example, I just have a hard time throwing out a general request for a general group of people that I’ll never know if it was answered because I’m not even sure what I actually requested!
More than likely, if you don’t know anyone in the affected area, you’ve moved on to the next geographical location and the latest disaster the news decides to cover, leaving last week’s disaster survivors on their own.
It is ironic that the only disasters we pray for are the ones the news tells us about. There are disasters happening on your street, few of which will be on the news. Why not pray locally more?
Remember James’ warning that saying nice things for someone without doing anything to help is worthless. How can you be doing this for every geographical region the news tells you a disaster happened in?
Also wondering how plastering #PrayForSomeplace all over the internet is consistent with that whole pray in your closet and don’t let others know what you’re up to command. When you post this, are you actually praying, or are you virtue signalling? But alas, I imagine I’ve stepped in it enough for one day.
Anyway, not trying to be obnoxious. Just thinking a thing through. Pray. Pray more. Then pray some more. At some point it’s helpful to pray for something you actually know about and can help. Don’t let your prayers be driven by the news; let it be driven by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
I’m willing to be wrong. Any verses I’m missing on the issue?