Have you heard about the parrot that orders from Amazon? Rocco the African Grey has been in the news this month after adding goods, including ice cream, strawberries, raisins, broccoli and a water melon to his owner’s virtual shopping list. Marion Wischnewski, who works at the National Animal Welfare Trust sanctuary in Berkshire, UK, has to check her shopping list on her Amazon Echo after work each evening, in case her parrot has been shopping again. Thankfully Ms Wischnewski has a parental lock on her Amazon account, which means that the orders don’t go through. Last year Buddy, another African Grey, managed to successfully order a set of golden gift boxes from Amazon for its owner, Corienne Pretorious of Greenwich, South-East London.
Unlike Rocco and Buddy, you might be the sort of person who loves to give at Christmas more than to receive. So how about a gift that you can give all year round that costs you nothing; a way of loving others that does you as much good as it does them? Earlier this year, James Banks of odb.org wrote this:
“One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them. All around us are people who need us to … love them with our prayers, inviting God’s help and intervention in their lives. We can ask God to help us pray for them, and He will!”
Praying for your friends, or for strangers, can make a real difference. I am so grateful for those who have prayed for me, and for the answers to their prayers. Sometimes we may see one of our friends in need, and yet feel powerless to help. It’s at times like this that we can pray and ask God to step into their situation and to help them when they need it most. We may or may not see results straight away, but the scriptures encourage us to keep praying and not give up. We know that our Creator answers prayer in three ways: YES, I’ll answer your prayer right now! WAIT, my timing is perfect. NO, I have something better for you. Sometimes when the answer is ‘No’, it’s difficult to understand, but our Creator sees the whole situation; He sees the past, present and future, and no matter how hard it seems, He always works for good.
Prayer works best of course, when it comes from a heart of love, not just for the one we are praying for, but love for our Creator. When we humble ourselves and invite Him* into the driving seat of our lives, we build a loving relationship that will extend into eternity. He is no longer ‘a force’, ‘an energy’, ‘an intelligence’ or even ‘Mother Nature’, but we get to know Him personally, to understand His ways, to share His feelings and to wonder at His love, His wisdom and His working in the world. Through spending time with Him, sharing our thoughts and delving into the life stories of Jesus, we get to know Him as a friend – even our best friend. Then bringing our friends and loved ones to Him in prayer becomes a natural part of our lives.
So this Christmas, don’t just buy your friend a present; make that connection with God and pray for them. They might just pray for you too!
A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL, AND A PEACEFUL 2019!
* In the English language we call our Creator ‘He’, but God is neither male nor female; although in one sense God has the positive attributes of both sexes, such as love, compassion, strength, gentleness and protection. According to the scriptures we are all made in God’s image.