Monday, April 10, 2006

Let's Talk Prayer!

Let’s talk about prayer today. When you think of prayer, of praying, what is it that you think of? Some may think of saying prayers before bedtime, or mealtime, as perhaps as children their parents taught them to say their prayers. Some maybe think of prayer as something that is done corporately in a church service, praying in unison along with the preacher. Some think of prayer as quiet, private and personal, not something to be shared with others. Some may think of prayer as an archaic religious practice with no real benefit for us in the 21st century.

I think we tend to compartmentalize spiritual disciplines. We place going to church in a box, Bible study in a box, so on and so forth. Prayer is no different. We even have a term for it- Prayer life. I am of the view that we shouldn’t have a little box that we call our “prayer life”, but that our lives should be saturated with prayer. I believe the Apostle Paul said it best in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 when he said “Pray with out ceasing”. Not that we live our lives on our knees, always trying to think of stuff to say to God, but that we keep in communion and fellowship with the Lord.

Both the Old and New Testaments give us vivid pictures of praying people, and I believe that it provides us a wonderful example of lives of prayer. From the very beginning when people began to “call upon the name of the LORD”, Gen. 4:26, to John the Revelator in the Spirit on the Lord’s day while imprisoned on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:9-10), the Bible as a whole is the great textbook for the life that prays.

But prayer isn’t simply talking to God, or reciting prayers from memory. Those may have a place in the life of prayer, but prayer is so much more. Prayer isn’t a monologue, but it is a dialogue. It’s between God and me when I pray. Sure, I talk, I bring my questions, my fears, and my petitions to my Father in heaven, but I am learning that he also desires to speak to me. He may give me direction; he may speak to me through the Bible, as I have found it important to bring his Word into his Presence. He may simply speak a comforting word into my spirit in a time of distress. I remember one time a couple years ago, I had some car trouble. I didn’t have any money to repair it, but God provided for the repair, which was to be done later that week. When the car was inspected a couple days before the scheduled repair, it was found that much more was wrong than I realized. On my way home, I was worried sick. I was saying, “God, you heard the repair guy. How can I get this car fixed? I can’t afford it!” I sensed the Lord speak gently to my spirit, “You weren’t worried when you thought the problem was small; don’t you think I knew about these other problems, too?” I almost started weeping right there in the car! I sensed that peace that passes all understanding envelope me. Yes, friends, let this be a testimony that God does indeed speak to his children!

But do you know that prayer can be wordless? Sometimes, the most invigorating times of prayer for me are the times that neither I nor the Lord says anything. I’m simply basking in his presence, as he ministers to me by his Spirit. I liken it to riding in the car with my wife. Though I enjoy talking with her, there are times when we don’t have to say anything, but we just enjoy each other’s presence. David was a man that enjoyed the presence of God. Just read through the Psalms of David. He so desired to be with God.

Ps. 23:6- “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever”

Ps. 26:8- “LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth”

Ps. 27:4-5- “One [thing] have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock”

Ps. 63:1- “O God, thou [art] my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is”

Ps. 84:2- “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God”

We are told in the New Testament that we need to shut ourselves away with the Lord. Jesus told us in Matthew 6 that when we pray, we need to go into our inner chamber. That means a solitary place, a place where we can be alone and undistracted. Don’t laugh, but for me, one such place is actually the bathroom! Not using it for its intended purpose, but as a quiet place to shut out the noise and distraction of life. Paul tells us in his writings that we have been given access to God. As a teenager, I would go to NASCAR races with my family. My step dad was a season ticket holder at Michigan International Speedway. But in addition to the great seats, we also had pit passes. These special passes gave us access to the pit area, where you would often see the drivers signing autographs before race time. In the same way, Christ has given us access to the throne of Grace. In fact, the book of Hebrews says it like this:

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Vs. 19-22)

You see, friends, there is no reason for us to simply hang around God’s presence like it’s a swimming pool, simply dangling you toes in water on the deck. We have been given the go-ahead to dive in headlong in the presence of God! That’s what true prayer is. It’s getting alone with the Lord and enjoying that precious fellowship with him, praising him and worshipping him. It’s my prayer for you today that you, the reader, whoever you are, that you today will dive into the presence of God for an exciting life of prayer-communion with God Almighty! God bless!

1 comment:

Henry Haney said...

Good stuff- you make some excellent points. I think we all too often compartmentalize the spiritual area of our lives.

And I find myself doing the monologue thing too (to my shame of course).

Enjoyed the entry today- makes me want to go pray.