I want to start by sharing with you a story from the gospel of John chapter 12:
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."
Poverty has always existed and will exist until Jesus comes to reign on this earth. The current financial crisis has affected people all over the world.
There is a woman I know who has no money to feed herself and her children. One of her relatives is sick and none of the family has the money to buy the medication that can cure that person.
There are other causes of poverty too:
A man i know left his country with his young sister because of a war in that region. they live in a refugee camp and he is not able to get a job to support them. He would like to leave that place and move to a nearby country where he will have a chance to make a better life for him and his sister but he doesn't have the money he needs to do it.
I talked to a friend of mine last week in Africa. He told me he had a beloved relative who had terminal cancer. he was desperate to find any way to help her. Because the cancer in her neck had caused swelling to the degree that she could no longer eat or drink. When I asked if she was in the hospital he told me no. the doctor had given one piece of advice, to take her to a western country where she would get better medical attention but my friend couldn't afford to do that. The following day I heard that my friend's relative passed away.
Another person I know had a business in an African country. One night his place of business burned to the ground. In a country like Australia it's likely he would have had insurance or at least he would have received an unemployment benefit to help him live until he got a job somewhere or decided what he wanted to do with his future but there was no help like that available for him.
Even in this country there are people who struggle with poverty. There are homeless people, or families who don't quite manage to make ends meet even with both parents working, or single parents with young children to support.
We can hear stories like that and think "what can I do?" I would love to be able to give money to all the people I know who are in severe poverty but i can't afford to do that. One thing i can do is pray for them. That's what I am encouraging all of you to do who read this. I'm sure you know people who are struggling with poverty to some degree or other. Maybe you can't help them financially but you can certainly pray for them to the one who can help them the most ... god. He already knows the people and situations we will pray for but he wants us to pray about these things. The word of god says:
The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.
the bible also describes our prayers as incense. Maybe we aren't in the position of Mary who poured expensive perfume over the Lord, but we can pray to God about the poor and about other things that are on our hearts and our prayers will rise like incense to the throne of god. We will talk more about prayer another day but I want to encourage you that our prayers for the poor or any other prayers we pray can do a lot of good. We may not see the results of our prayers, or we may pray for years before we get the answer, but we should not give up praying.
When we pray for the poor we can ask god if he wants us to do something else to help, such as working in a soup kitchen to feed those who can't afford to buy food, or giving some money to a charity. He will show us what we should do and then we must obey him.
I want to finish by saying a word to any of my readers who may be experiencing the sort of poverty we have been talking about. I can't understand exactly what you are going through but be assured that god does. I am also happy to pray for you and if you wish you can email me your prayer requests on the following email address:
May God bless you. Thanks to all who read these messages, I am really blessed to know that someone out there is reading this and I pray that God will be with you. Thank you.