Caring for the poor isn’t easy—but it also doesn’t need to be overwhelming, at least when we recognize poverty from a biblical point of view. I explained in an earlier article that when we begin to see poverty the way the Bible does, we begin to see it as offering a number of practical opportunities to worship Jesus.
But how we will worship—how our concern will be expressed—will differ from one person to another. The expression of our concern neither reflects nor establishes our holiness before God. Our responsibility is only to serve in the way in which we feel compelled. With that in mind, here are five things you can do to help the poor that really do help:
1. Begin in the church and move from there.So, practically, this means a couple of things: service starts within our local congregations. “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” James wrote (James 2:15-16). If we a need is known in the church, we are actually obligated to meet it. Remember, the early church, motivated by their love of Christ and the grace God had shown them, lived an open-handed lifestyle, sharing all they had with one another (Acts 2:44-45).
I remember a number of years ago, my family was in pretty dire straits. We were drowning, financially, not because we had a lot of debt; we simply had very little income and too many expenses. One day, after church, one of the elders of our church came up to me and quietly handed me an envelope with more than enough money to help us meet a few significant needs that month. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about—it’s not showy acts; it’s recognizing needs and meeting them.
2. Look for simple, practical ways to serve. Consider the options around you. Perhaps it’s volunteering with an after-school program in your community, a soup kitchen or clothing pantry (and if there isn’t one in your community, perhaps you could start one through your church). Maybe it’s just as simple as buying a coffee for the man on the street who is asking for change. There are more needs around you than you might realize. Ask God to give you eyes to see and a heart to serve.
3. Work with experts you can trust. There are many different organizations working to alleviate the suffering of the poor, both locally and globally. But not all organizations are created equal. Do your homework—read whatever information an organization has made available to you and review its finances to ensure the money entrusted to it is being stewarded well. CharityNavigator.org is a helpful resource for identifying trustworthy organizations.
4. Remember that spiritual problems require spiritual solutions. Because poverty is fundamentally a spiritual issue, we would be wise to work with organizations that recognize this truth. Look for organizations that are committed to the local church and are faithfully proclaiming the gospel, even as they minister to the physical and relational needs of the poor. One the best I know of serving the global poor in this way is Compassion International.
5. Pray and trust God for the results. Our responsibility is not to end poverty, but to minister to those who are suffering while we are here. The day is coming that Jesus will return; and on that day, He will wipe every tear from every eye. Sin, sadness, death… all of these will be gone. Poverty will be no more (Revelation 21:4). Therefore, do what you can, pray, and trust God for the results.
Aaron Armstrong is the author of Awaiting a Savior: the Gospel, the New Creation and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. He is a writer for an international Christian ministry, serves as an itinerant preacher throughout southern Ontario, and blogs daily at Blogging Theologically.
Why Is it Important that Christians Pray for the Homeless?
As Christians, we are commanded to love one another. Jesus told the disciples to love one another as He had loved them. By showing the love of Christ, we are showing others they are loved and cherished by Him (John 13:34 NIV).
Prayer is a powerful way to show the love of Christ. We can pray silently, or in a whisper, or out loud. We can pray alone or in a group setting. If we can’t find the words, the Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf.
God listens. We may not know the outcome of our prayers. Yet, we do know those prayers are heard. God’s plan is working through each situation and in every moment.
25 Prayers for the Homeless in Our Communities and around the World
Father, please help the homeless. Amen.
Lord God Almighty, protect the homeless from harm. Amen.
Abba Father, thank You for providing ways to pray for the homeless. Amen.
Father, guide me to notice when someone needs help and guide me to give help. Amen.
God, help me to know how to provide comfort and aid to the homeless. Amen.
Father, thank You for being Father to the homeless. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Lord, please provide food and shelter to the homeless around the world. Thank You, Amen.
Heavenly Father, open my eyes and ears to notice anyone who is homeless and show me ways to help. In the name of Your Son, Amen.
God, please give every homeless person food, shelter, and the medical care needed. Amen.
Father, guide me to know how to help the homeless in our community. Thank You, Amen.
Father, guide me to know how to help the homeless around the world. Amen.
Lord, let the homeless find safety and comfort. In Your Name, Amen.
God, help me not to be judgmental when I see a homeless person. Amen.
Lord God, even if I can’t travel to foreign lands, show me ways to share Your love and glory to the homeless in other parts of the world. Amen.
Almighty Father, bring warmth, safety, and nourishment to the homeless on the cold winter nights. Amen.
Father, bless the people who care for the homeless by making meals and providing shelter, clothing, and medical aid. Thank You, Amen.
Abba Father, please help me to know how to help the homeless people in my community. Amen.
Lord, there are homeless people in our community. Show me how to give them love and compassion without hurting their feelings and dignity. Amen.
God, help everyone to know there are different reasons for people being homeless. Help us to show Your love to each person. Amen.
Father, thank You for showing us ways to help the homeless. Amen.
Almighty Father, Your homeless children need love and kindness. They need food to provide nourishment, shelter from the weather, and medical care to help with healing. Show us ways to give aid to the homeless. Thank You, Amen.
Father, I don’t know any homeless people. How can I help? Show me the ways. Amen.
God, please protect the homeless children in the world. Help everyone to show them Your love and glory. Amen.
Lord, give me the correct words to say when I speak to a homeless person. Make my words reflect Your love. Thank You, Father, Amen.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to help the homeless. May each word I speak bring the homeless to a closer relationship with You. Amen.
(Excerpted from "25 Powerful Prayers for the Homeless for Their Safety and Comfort" by Melissa Henderson)
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/trumzz
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