Prayer; December 17, 2019

Matthew 6:8 “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

The Bible says so many things that get totally ignored by well-meaning people! The only legitimate reason to repeat prayers, especially prayers written by someone else, is to let the words soak into our hearts and minds, and not to try to force God to do something, for us or for anyone else. I have been to services where prayers seemed to be fillers, killing time until the officiant was ready to do something else. That bothers me a lot! Christians have absolutely no reason to copy Buddhists, who repeat sutras that even the priests and others who have them memorized have next to no idea what they mean. In Tibetan Buddhism they have it mechanized, with the written sutras / prayers installed in cylinders, saying that spinning the cylinder is the equivalent of saying the prayer as many times as it goes around. (It has always bothered me that the song, “Just a Little Talk with Jesus,” though otherwise good, has the line, “feel a little prayer wheel turning.” That’s not Christian prayer!) Jesus did tell us to pray and not give up, (Luke 18:1-8) but that’s not the same thing as trying to twist God’s arm by the quantity or volume of our words.

It is my conviction, and experience, that there is no limit to possible growth in prayer. Prayer is still fundamentally a mystery to me. Why would the omnipotent Creator of the universe even listen to an individual human being? However, from Genesis through Revelation it is recorded that God wants to talk with us His children, and the New Testament is absolutely saturated with prayer, both examples and teaching about it. I have had times when prayer seemed like talking to an empty sky, and times when it seemed like an intimate conversation. I much prefer the latter! I don’t hesitate to talk to God at any time, but I realize that all too often I fail to expect His immediate answer, and so fail to listen for it. As I was writing just now I stopped a moment and said in my heart, “Lord?” “What do you want to know?” “I want to know the Scripture we are to use for next year.” “I will let you know.” I had almost forgotten the many times I’ve had such interactions, and that in itself is amazing. The problems are all on my side, so I need to be focused on Him, not letting my pride or preoccupation block my ears from hearing Him. I am aware of Him speaking to me every morning as I read the Bible, but I need to keep growing in listening to Him all the time throughout each day. I am to be increasingly faithful in lifting others up to Him in prayer. Often that’s easier than praying about my own issues, because it’s much easier to be objective about someone else. I need to remember that prayer is active participation in what God is doing, so that His name may be acknowledged as holy and His kingdom come as His will is done, sometimes even through the words that come from my mouth.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You again for the experience of Sunday into Monday where my pride was broken down a bit more. I ask You to remove from my heart and life everything that in any way interferes with Your total Lordship and control, so that I may be Your instrument indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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