Bakersfield, home to more than 370,000 residents, is in the top 10 of California's largest cities. During these uncertain times, we do not have to let hardships and personal opinions divide us. We can, instead, use this time as an opportunity to support and strengthen our city.
We can choose to let anything and everything distance us from the ones we are supposed to love, pray for and care about. If you look into your own life, especially in the last year and a half, I'm sure you can see how easily these divisions have crept into your circles.
But what if the residents of Bakersfield decided it was time for positive change? To put aside our differences, humble ourselves, and get back to the basics, loving God and others. What if we made it our mission to pray for one another and to reach out our hands to the needy?
Our city leaders are already reaching out, and our churches are doing the same. We have many organizations that help the addicted, the fatherless, the homeless, the unborn, etc. Many of you already support these causes. But what kind of an impact could we make and what example would our city be, if more of us did?
We can start with prayer. Prayer is the way we talk to God. Fervent prayer is to talk to God with a "passionate intensity."
James 5:16 says to "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. ... The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Let's pray for each other so that Bakersfield might become strengthened.
Who should we be praying for? Pray for our loved ones, our neighbors, our city and its leaders, our nation and its leaders, pray for our churches, and the organizations helping others. Pray for our schools. Our police officers too. Pray for all those struggling with hopelessness. Pray for anyone else that needs our prayers, even and especially our enemies.
When should we pray? In the morning, before we start our day. In our car running errands. We can pray anytime and anywhere. Pray when we don't feel like it. And pray in the heat of the moment. I call this a "flair prayer." We should pray at the close of our day and "pray without ceasing."
How should we pray? Jesus taught us to pray the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. When we pray this, we make a statement of faith, recognizing God as Holy, that His kingdom is eternal, and His will as divine.
My grandmother believed that "we should consider prayer, not just a duty, but a privilege and joy. We come to a God of goodness, righteousness, power, mercy, and love." And I believe we can all use more love and mercy, so to get it, "let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need," as said in Hebrews 4:16.