A few nights ago I was watching a much anticipated campmeeting being broadcast on multiple streaming services. The guest speakers were teachers with decades of study and experience in the arena of faith. But the first night something happened that made me stand up on the inside and let out a string of, YES, YES, YES’s!!
This awesome sister had written a book not long ago about the mind and how to combat threatening thoughts that try to plague us all at one time or another. The book laid out a detailed plan of how to fight back and not be a mental punching bag for the devil. Now this lady is the senior pastor of the church that hosted the meetings, so it would be expected that her congregation–for the most part–had purchased and read her new book. No doubt she had also taught the principles in her sermons.
Her message that night, sure enough, centered around how the enemy attacks the mind. She asked those present what the first step was to gain victory over this tactic–something she clearly explained in her new book. Crickets. I don’t know if it caught her congregation off guard or they momentarily forgot, or maybe never read the book…but you could tell she was “a tad miffed” at the lack of response. I’m not saying she was mad. Let’s say unpleasantly surprised.
She then said something to the effect that maybe she needed to have them read the book again! It sounded a whole lot like a mother that has told her child what to do repeatedly to get the school bus bully to leave him alone and he can’t seem to recall her words of wisdom. I could relate.
To write a book, preach a sermon or compose a song is work–hard work. Lots of it.
So when you’re asked to pray or give advice on something you’ve written about or preached on, and the material is readily available–it can get under your skin when people keep contacting you for prayer for their mother, mother’s friend, person their mother plays bingo with on Tuesday…
If you are familiar with the “word of faith” movement, with great teachers like Kenneth E. Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Norvel Hayes, Dr. Sumrall, and John Osteen–to name only a few–then you are also familiar with their “do it yourself” style. What do I mean by that? I mean that they put the Word of God out there in all forms: magazines, books, teaching tapes or later cd’s, and even radio. Then they expected, and even taught, that YOU should study the material and use it for yourself. They gave you the tools and basically said, “Use them.” End of story. This is how you remember what to do, this is how you learn how to handle problems, this is how you build your own toolbox so you can use your tools at 2 a.m.
Norvel Hayes would often say during his preaching that if someone was always asking for prayer or what the Bible says about something he would answer with, “Pray yourself”. Or, “Look it up yourself, you lazy thing.” But today, most ministers are too afraid of saying something like this for fear they will offend. Laziness needs to be offended. Slothfulness needs to be addressed.
We–those who write books, teach the Bible, compose songs–are enablers when we expend time, energy and money to provide resources. Resources that can be handled, studied, read and re-read, listened to many times, and yet instead of directing those in need to those resources, we reteach, repreach and regurgitate on a one-on-one basic to someone whose tendency is to reach for someone else to do what they should be doing themselves.
The solution? The next time there is a problem, a question, a symptom, a pain, a need–go to the Word of God yourself. Then when you find Scripture that fits your circumstance, pray yourself. I’m not saying you never call a prayer line, I’m saying that shouldn’t always be the first response. I’m not saying you don’t ask someone what Scripture they stand on for healing–but what Scripture do YOU stand on? Is there a book YOU need to read? A worship song YOU need to sing? A message YOU need to listen to? Those are the lessons you never forget. Maturity is learning how to Do It Yourself!