Sometimes, it can be very nice to let someone know what you’re praying for. But that’s not always the case.
It’s a shame more Christians have not mastered the fine art of keeping quiet at the right time.
Recently I was reading an article about someone’s sudden, unexpected death on Facebook. A variety of people, those who knew the person and those who didn’t, left messages of condolences or said they were praying for the person’s family and friends — all polite and kind gestures.
Then came that one. You know the one; the Christian who really has to make it known how much of a Christian he or she is, even if it means saying something that probably wouldn’t have been said if a bit more time had been spent thinking about it.
The one said something to the effect, “I just hope she had accepted Christ before she died.”
Let’s think about this for a minute.
Christians are expected to be “fishers of men,” meaning we are to spread God’s Word and help others find and build their own relationships with Jesus Christ. So it’s only natural, then, that we should hope everyone accepts Christ and the gift of salvation that comes with it.
That, for Christians, is a no-brainer.
There’s nothing wrong with working to help more people find God. There’s certainly nothing wrong with spending time in genuine prayer for those who have not yet had a genuine encounter with God to make them want to make such a personal decision.
There’s something very wrong, however, with making that kind of statement at that moment.
It doesn’t come off as loving. It doesn’t come off as a Christian showing genuine care and concern for a neighbor.
It comes off as blatant insensitivity.
The time to pray that someone “knows Jesus” is while they’re still alive. Once a person’s family and friends are grieving, the last thing they need to hear at that moment is someone’s implication that on top of having just died, they might have gone to Hell to boot.
Matthew 6:6 tells us to pray in secret, not publicly:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
The motivation is to put the focus on our relationship with God, not on showing off to others who aren’t part of that conversation that we’re such good Christians.
Common sense tells us that there’s a right time and a wrong time to interrupt condolences for talk of missed salvation that has the potential to be that much more hurtful to survivors when it’s too late to do anything about that, anyway.
If you want to pray about potentially lost salvation, go to your private place — and Facebook isn’t it — and pray that God will put you in contact with someone near the end of his or her life and who desperately needs to hear about that salvation. Ask God to put yourself out there for the next person so that you don’t have to potentially rub salt in the wounds of the survivors of the previous person.
The Bible and common sense need not be enemies.