Knowing, Caring and Praying

I’ve been reading Amy Carmichael’s book Lotus Buds. In this book she tells the story of her work in India as a missionary and how she found herself rescuing young girls, sometimes babies, from being dedicated to the Hindu temples. The inevitable fate of these innocent little souls was to become temple prostitutes – their sexual services would earn a living for the priests.

8.7.14_amy-carmichael1From a western perspective, it’s difficult to understand how parents could believe this was a choice they could make for their little ones. But circumstances sometimes forced them to give up their babies and this was one of the most acceptable ways of ensuring they would be “looked after”. No doubt, for some, it also held the hope of favourable treatment from the gods. Temple prostitution was banned in India in 1948 and I have no doubt that it was through the work and prayers of people like Amy that this came about. To undermine such a deep, culturally accepted custom, it often takes someone from outside the culture to point out the injustice involved in an entrenched practice.

Amy was a great prayer warrior and she wrote:

…..we write for those who believe in prayer—not in the emasculated modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow. We believe there is some connection between knowing and caring and praying, and what happens afterwards. Otherwise we should leave the darkness to cover the things that belong to the dark. We should be for ever dumb about them, if it were not that we know an evil covered up is not an evil conquered. So we do the thing from which we shrink with strong recoil; we stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell what we have seen, urged by the longing within us that the Christians of England should pray.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 924-929).Kindle Edition.

As Christians we need to take seriously the battle that is raging for the souls of people lost in other faiths. Some people feel it is wrong to go against the entrenched culture of a nation. When Amy went to India, part of the culture of that nation was to give baby girls to temples to become prostitutes. She had to fight long and hard to free the children she saved from this fate. We are not our cultures; we are far more than our cultures. We have each been created in God’s image and He has a great desire to bring us into His eternal kingdom, through His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

photo from http://www.carigold.com

India 1900 photo from http://www.carigold.com

False religions are simply cultural – they have nothing to do with the Creator of the universe. They have grown out of humanity’s ideas about God. They stand opposed to God’s revelation of Himself. To say that all religions are basically the same is to admit ignorance of the truth. It is like saying all economic systems are the same, because they are all about economics. No one, who took the time to look, could believe that a command economy and a free market economy are the same. They might use similar terminology, but they are very different approaches to the same issue. We need to be prepared to speak the truth about the uniqueness of Christianity, it might use similar terminology to other religions, but it is not just another path, it is the only true path to an eternal relationship with our Creator Father.

I pray God will show us how to become prayer warriors like Amy Carmichael and that the Christians of the world today should also pray in that deep way she talked about. It breaks my heart to think of the way many Christians have accepted pluralism in the 21st century. But the reality is, The Bible teaches us that, like the Muslim faith, the Hindu religion is another stronghold of darkness. These are not alternative paths to God, they are terrible strongholds of darkness and deception. Amy did not go to India with any sense of cultural superiority, she loved India and its people. She wrote:

We think of the real India as we see it in the thinker—the seeker after the unknown God, with his wistful eyes. “The Lord beholding him loved him,” and we cannot help loving as we look….. We see the spirit of the old land there; and it wins us and holds us, and makes it a joy to be here to live for India.

The true India is sensitive and very gentle. There is a wisdom in its ways, none the less wise because it is not the wisdom of the West. This spirit which traffics in children is callous and fierce as a ravening beast; and its wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. . . . And this spirit, alien to the land, has settled upon it, and made itself at home in it, and so become a part of it that nothing but the touch of God will ever get it out. We want that touch of God: “Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.” That is why we write.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 919-924). Kindle Edition.

Amy understood that despite the fact that Jesus is the only Way, God was still able to work in the hearts of people who had never heard the name of Jesus. She wrote:

We form no hard, presumptuous creed as to how the God of all the earth will deal with these masses of mankind who have missed the knowledge of Him here; we know He will do right.
Carmichael, Amy (2011-03-24). Lotus Buds (Kindle Locations 585-586). . Kindle Edition.

But 100 years later it is almost impossible to “have missed the knowledge of Him.” There may be a few remote outposts of the world where the name of Jesus has not been heard, but the real battle today is to stand against a watering down of the words of Jesus. He said He is the only Way to enter the eternal kingdom, there is no other Way. To give in to pluralism is to give in to these false, cultural claims about God. God has clearly revealed His Truth and we need to lovingly bring people to an understanding of this Truth.

the way1

This brings me back to the need for prayer. When we realise “the connection between knowing and caring and praying, and what happens afterwards,” we can do nothing other than be moved to prayer. Amy reminded us that we “stand on the edge of the pit, and look down and tell what we have seen.” What we have seen is that there is only one Way to the Father, and this is through His Son. And so we must pray for the masses who are yet in darkness. As Amy put it, our prayer must be, “not in the emasculated modern sense, but in the old Hebrew sense, deep as the other is shallow.”

We know there are billions of people in the world today who have heard the name of Jesus, but have no understanding of His Truth. These people are not only deceived by false “religions”, they are also deceived by materialism, atheism and pluralism. They may be known to us or unknown, well educated or uneducated, wealthy or poor. We may not be able to take ourselves to the mission fields, but every Christian alive today can pray. We don’t need to pray for revival, we need to pray for the lost, those who are at risk of losing their eternal destiny in the Lake of Fire.

We don’t need entertaining, we don’t need formulas and steps to follow, we just need to get down on our knees and lift our hearts to our Father and pray. Pray for the billions of souls who may forfeit their eternal destiny because we were too busy, or too tired, or too troubled. Start with the people you know, all those people in your life who don’t, as yet, know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Make sure you pray for them every day. God will lead and God will guide, but we must make ourselves available. Brothers and sister let us all give ourselves to prayer for the teaming masses of lost souls who share our planet this very day. Do it now and do it often – pray.

For the terrible day is almost here—the day of the LORD! It is a day of clouds and gloom, a day of despair for the nations. (Eze 30:3)

Photo from Lotus Buds by Amy Carmichael

Photo from Lotus Buds by Amy Carmichael

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Become an Agent for Change

When I look at newscasts and think about the horrific problems millions of people face because of violence in the countries where they live, I am compelled to wonder how we can make effective changes so that innocent people do not need to flee their homes. How do countries, who open their doors to refugees, help these violent countries develop justice, liberty and equality?

Violence arises from faulty thinking. To think we have a right to attack another person is faulty thinking. Some of this thinking stems from faulty ideologies, some from purely selfish thoughts (I want what you have) and some from the inability or lack of inclination to control violent impulses. God expects us to control our violent impulses, and if we can’t, He has directed civilised societies to create legal systems to deal with people who are a threat to others. Human beings have known from the beginning of time that murder is evil, and there is no doubt about it, we will all stand before our Creator and give an account for the things we have done in this life.

Anyone who has the mistaken belief that in our world today a deity would want them to murder another person, has definitely accepted an ideology that is based on faulty thinking. And yet a large number of the people who are displaced in the world today have had to leave their homes because this type of faulty thinking is being acted upon with, at times, genocidal outcomes. This faulty thinking says, “These people don’t agree with my ideology, I have the right to kill them.”

How do sane, rational people deal with this form of faulty thinking? How should the rest of the world attempt to prevent wholesale murder on the scale we are seeing being perpetrated by IS? I believe we have to directly attack this faulty thinking and it is imperative that this attack comes first from within the community that has given rise to these murderous people.

Outsiders simply pointing out to these people that their thinking is faulty will not prevent the insane violence that is being spread through hate. These murderers claim their scriptures tell them that people who don’t believe in the things they believe in are not only deceived, they choose to be deceived, and therefore their blood is on their own hands. We hear the occasional cry of defence from Muslim leaders who maintain murder is not part of their religion. And yet every day for the last 20 years we hear about Muslims killing people.

If this is not an integral part of Islam, then the leaders need to stand up and say so, loud and clear. They need to teach their children that killing someone else, for any reason other than defending oneself or one’s community, is murder – plain and simple! And they need to educate their young men to think differently. Hate is not conducive to world peace. But perhaps this is what they are actually all about. Their ideology may be based on the idea that the Mahdi will come to a chaotic world filled with hate and violence. They may mistakenly believe they are agents of some twisted sort of good/god.

© Jpegwiz | Dreamstime.com

© Jpegwiz | Dreamstime.com

There is no denying the fact that the majority of people who have found it impossible to stay in their own countries have fled to countries that were founded on Christian principals. Christians can attack the faulty thinking that has led to so much violence and human suffering. We need to attack from the front with prayer. Prayer is our most powerful weapon and we need to use it now, because this is a spiritual battle and we are called to arms. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph 6:12)

Christian communities have no problem identifying and condemning murder. Jesus has not given us a mandate for attacking other people, even if they disagree with us and hate us we are commanded to love them and pray for them. The Christian faith is based on peace (Luke 1:78-79), love (John 13:35), forgiveness (Mat 6:12), charity (Mat 25:35-40) and equality (2 Cor 8:13-14). These are the standards the leaders of the Christian church should be setting for their people. God has not called us to be prosperous in this world, He has called us to take up the cross and follow Him (Mark 8:34). Christian leaders around the world today need to speak out about these standards and demand them of their people. All those people who claim to be followers of Christ should be showing love to their Muslim neighbours. We need to be the ambassadors of Christ in the 21st century world.

If these standards are also claimed by other faiths then let their leaders stand up and be counted. Let them speak out and tell their people that this is what is expected of them. If these are not the standards set by their faith, then this faith should be seen for what it is, nothing more than a group of murderous people with faulty thinking. Any faith that promotes violence and hate is a false, evil religion, because we know that God is Love (1 John 4:8).

Why should the rest of the world stand by and pick up the pieces as country after country is racked by the ruinous doctrines of an evil religion. If murder and violence are not part of the doctrine of Islam then let the leaders shout it from their minarets. There are innocent men, women and children who have been born into this faith who have no freedom to choose to look rationally at it and reject it. Apostasy is another choice that is punishable by murder. Outsiders cannot reform Islam, it is up to Muslims to show the world that they really are promoting a religion of peace, if this is indeed what they claim. But this is not what is evident from 1400 years of history.

I can only hope that I am wrong, that I have looked at this situation and missed something. But I simply have to look at the news to see that even if a small number of misguided people are promoting violent aggression in the name of Islam, it is enough to cause immense and unpardonable suffering. Christians around the world need to identify this faulty thinking with compassion and attack it with prayer. This is a call to every Christian in the world today to become an agent of change. Pray brothers and sister, pray like you have never prayed before. Pray for the souls of the lost and deceived, pray that they will see the Light and come to the only true God, their Creator.

© Alistaircotton | Dreamstime.com

© Alistaircotton | Dreamstime.com

Christians of the world must unite and attack this faulty thinking on the spiritual level. The Body of Christ needs to be an agent for change in the world today. Christian people all over the world need to dedicate some time to prayer. We have the most powerful weapon in all the world and we can use it for God’s glory. We need to show the world “proof of our love” so that the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified (2 Cor 8:2-3). Brothers and sisters let us pray.

“Father, let those people who have been born into countries where faulty thinking is the norm hear Your Truth. Lord, open their hearts and their minds to the Truth of Your gospel and bring them into Your Kingdom. Father let them hear about the great love You have for them. Let them truly understand that You sent Your Son to die for them, that they might have eternal life. They have been told that they will live in paradise because they are prepared to kill for their god. Break down this false hope Lord and open their eyes to Your Truth. We know it is only in and through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can be granted the gift of eternal life. Father, reach out to them now we pray and touch them mightily. Amen.”