The Stain

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this; to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

Living in Borger, Texas for three years provided a real education about carbon black. I have never looked at pencil lead, ink, or toner the same way.  Carbon black is one of the by-products of pulling oil out of the ground. Through the refining process, a black residue can be collected and utilized for all kinds of amazing products. At the time Dana and I lived in this great city, Huber Carbon Black and Sid Richardson Carbon Black companies were hard at work creating this unique product, and shipping it in specialized railroad cars and containers all over the country.

While this incredible work was going on, Dana and I were quite unaware of the daily, settling of a fine dust of carbon black that accumulated on the sidewalks, and lawns of our fair city. Dana began to notice it when her peach colored carpet in our new home started to reveal serious staining from the carbon black carried through the door on the soles of our shoes. I noticed it when I mowed the yard after the long winter season. Black smoke poured out, from under my mower and covered me from head to toe with carbon black residue. Who knew? I never heard it land on the lawn, but the carbon black had gradually accumulated and stained everything it touched. Including me.

Persistent, private, personal prayer is the driving force of “Pure and undefiled religion.” Without praying, churches may become death defying but they will never be life giving. The same is true in your life.  Praying protects purity, and it corrects staining in your life.

“Honest to God” praying protects your heart from an invasion of selfishness that follows you like a shadow, and attempts to cross the threshold of your life, and make itself at home. Prayer leads you to look at the helpless, and the homeless, and say, “Let me help you.”   Prayerlessness feeds selfishness. What starts out looking like a little, purring kitten, becomes a roaring lion, growling, “What about me?”

Prayer also avoids the dangers of deferred maintenance. Postponing prayer leads to accumulative error in your life. Persistent prayer removes the daily residue of sin that can stain your heart with the accumulation of evil and error that falls on it and around it, while living in a fallen world.

Prayerlessness leaves precious little hope for the flow of your heart to reveal “Pure and undefiled religion.” Ministering to widows, and adopting children require your heart to be continually filled with the love of God.

Serving well without praying well, leads to compassion fatigue draining your well dry, with the needs of others. Serving without praying stains your heart with the residue of a sinful world, and eventually hardens it to the needs of others.

Note to Self: For your ministry to flow from a pure and undefiled heart, you must be consistently examine it for any sign of selfishness. Prayer drains the swamp of your selfishness, and keeps you from the stain of unconfessed sin in your life. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!