I’m not praying enough. Recently I heard a message at church that essentially said, “Stop worrying about doing ‘enough’ and just give God what you have. He will be happy with that.” The point is, don’t accept someone else’s standards or dogma for what you ought to be doing and how you ought to be living or pursuing God. Don’t waste time worrying about what you “ought” to do or feeling ashamed that you don’t do “enough” — just spend that emotional energy on loving God and loving people. I think this is a great message.

However, there does come a point, as we pursue God, that God will personally convict you of something, and I personally know that I am not spending enough time in prayer for my world. In a few brief moments reading the news this morning, I read about the human effects on climate change, people being harassed for wearing a hijab or being gay, and efforts in my community to reach out to the homeless. I read about a pastor who I believe misunderstands the Bible on some key social topics, and how that misunderstanding is leading him and his congregation down a path of which I disagree. There are governments trying to decide how much to fund education, and what role to play in individual medical care. This is just the tip of the iceberg on social issues. I am so frustrated by lack of concern for our environment. I am so sad when I hear of people being harassed for their religion or lifestyle. I am sad and a little bit angry to hear about leaders who don’t seem to take much caution or care in their responsibility of leadership, who make flippant remarks that are hurtful to people and causes. I read the news, I look at the world, I hear people talk. I can be sad and frustrated …or I can pray.

What can I really do? The biggest way to change the world — to represent God on this world — is to love God and love people. Part of how I can love God is taking my frustrations to Him and praying that He will do what I cannot do in this world. I can trust Him with my worries and cares and sadness and anger and frustration, and pray that God will move on hearts and influence those I will never meet. I can pray He will encourage the hearts of those who trust Him to do the right, but difficult and courageous things that often must be done when we live by faith. I can pray He will break into the false reality so many people are living. And I can live with love in my small little sphere of influence. I can speak words of life and encouragement. I can show love to my planet in tiny little ways, tiny little efforts to be more resourceful and less wasteful, to use less energy and fewer paper towels, to be happy with what I have instead of wanting more. I can show love to people — even when I disagree — because every person deserves to be treated with love and respect, simply for being human, and I believe, made in the image of God.

I don’t usually write about touchy social issues in this blog. I would rather focus on the things that can unite people, rather than the things that divide us. I like to try to bring an eternal and Biblical perspective. And I purposely didn’t include any links or specific references to those matters that are on my heart today, because I don’t want to focus on the negative and declare “this is what’s wrong with the world.”

Negative words don’t lead to positive results. There is a whole lot of hurt in this world. It is hard at times to not add to that hurt, to not let my frustrations spill over into my interactions with others, to instead focus on thankfulness and take deep breaths to calm and center my soul on Jesus instead of the darkness. I can pray that God changes my own heart toward compassion and joyful service instead of frustration and sadness and self-centeredness. Can you join me today in choosing prayer instead of public rants? (Rants can seem oh-so-tempting and cathartic but usually don’t end well.) Can you join me in looking for small ways to do your part to alleviate homelessness or damage to the earth or bullying or education or whatever issues are present in your mind today? And can you join me in looking for small ways to show love? Random acts of kindness, or simply politeness, and deference to others rather than asserting your own rights? Small gestures can go a long way toward improving someone’s day or outlook, just as small gestures of rudeness or selfishness or hate can totally derail someone’s day or outlook. Choose life, choose love. Change the world. At least your own little world, and pray for God to be involved and influential in those matters in which you have no direct voice or influence. Will you join me?