Hoping and Praying

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What led to this post was some of the Hurricane Dorian coverage.  One of the southern coastal governors ended his public address with “As the old saying goes, we’ll prepare for the worst and pray for the best.”  (The other governors, at least most, said the same thing.)  Then, the meteorologists took over from the studio and from the field with their comments on what the governor had said.  They concluded their remarks with “As the governor said, we’ll prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

NO!  The governor did not say that.  You may think that it is insignificant interchanging ‘hope’ and ‘pray’.  We may say, “I am hoping and praying for a good result.”  Some people might think we were saying that as making redundant statements, but no, they are separate things.

The word ‘Hope’ is defined in the online dictionary at wiley.com as

Hope” is commonly used to mean a wish: its strength is the strength of the person’s desire.  But in the Bible hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness.”

This gives the general definition and then expands on it to include the Christian concept of Hope.

Christian Hope is passive.  God does all the work, and we confidently expect God to fulfil His promises.  Work may be involved along the way, but not in the word ‘Hope.’

The word ‘Prayer’ is defined on the website – allaboutprayer.org as:

Prayer is a communication process that allows us to talk to God!

I kind of disagree with this website definition in that there is a two-way communication.  It is not just us talking to Him, but in prayerful meditation expecting God to answer in return – and He does.  It may not be immediate, but the Holy Spirit is continually counseling us.  We need to focus on His Voice.

So, prayer is something that we do.

Of course, if you are a member of the media, you do not want to “offend” anyone, so you switch words, hoping no one will notice.

Sorry, I noticed!!!!

I might have not noticed if it were not for several coastal mayors echoing the words of several coastal governors to ‘prepare and pray,’ while at the same time, every announcer – with no exception – on any network, who “quoted” the government officials said ‘prepare and hope.’  I do not think that I heard the Virginia governor say those words or words to that effect, but I heard those words from the governors of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.  Both major parties are represented in these four states’ governors, but the entire area contains voters from the ‘Bible Belt.’  Whatever the belief of the governors may be, they knew that changing the word to ‘hope’ would change the meaning of the expression in the minds of their voters.

The various forms of ‘hope’ are found (NIV) 186 times in the Bible, hope, hopeful, hoping.  Pray is found (NIV) 367 times in the Bible, pray, praying, prayer, etc., almost twice as often.

God commands us to pray.  The Scripture above says to pray continually.  Hope, in looking between the lines in the definition given above, is something that God gives us.

Yet, in the end, does it really change the saying from a Christian perspective?  I have gotten worked up about the media removing ‘God’ from the equation, but in the Christian concept of Hope, it really doesn’t.  We have faith in God, regardless of the media’s effort to ignore Him.  ‘Hope’ instead of ‘pray’ removes us from the act of petitioning to God, but we can rest assured that God’s sovereignty reigns supreme.  As if we are saying, by hoping, “God I don’t even have to ask you.  You already know what is in my heart, and I have confidence in You.”

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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