Bible Society of South Africa

When we pray ... - 23 February 2024

By Benescke Janse van Rensburg

Bible text(s)

34And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:34GNBOpen in Bible reader

Recently, I came across a column in a newspaper where the author expressed discontent about people who feel entitled to publicly pray for others. Her most poignant experience of this was during a public breakup, when a man approached her, extended his hands and began to pray over her. She describes that moment as follows: “While humiliation and hurt coursed through my veins like blood, the prayer felt like a cheap band-aid slapped onto a gaping wound that hadn’t even been cleaned or stitched yet.” Ouch!

Her story got me pondering how we, as believers, interact with people in our lives. Are we merely applying cheap band-aids or are we truly demonstrating Jesus’ love to those in pain? In John 13:34-35, Jesus says: ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

Jesus never condemned people. He offered help and guidance, but never embarrassed them – consider the woman caught in adultery (John 8), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and even Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector in the tree (Luke 19).

The love Jesus demonstrated towards these individuals profoundly transformed their lives. Jesus says: “As I have loved you, you must also love one another.” May we extend this same love towards others – in their brokenness, amidst their uncertainties about the future and even when we strongly disagree with the current state of their lives. This is how healing begins.

Prayer: Father God, forgive me for any way in which I have caused hurt to your children, perhaps by applying cheap band-aids when deeper healing was needed. Grant me wisdom to demonstrate your love in the most effective way possible. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

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