Psalm 65:2-3 O you who hear prayer,
to you all men will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Every religion has some form of prayer, but only the God of the Bible can be counted on to hear and listen. The average American hasn’t been exposed to many different forms of prayer, with the possible exception of Muslim prayer, since they have taken to using it as a form of social aggression, as they did in DFW airport just recently. Here in Japan, Shinto prayer involves ringing a bell and clapping to get the gods’ attention, and Buddhist prayer is mostly just repeating sutras, transliterated from the Sanskrit, that generally not even the priests actually understand. In the Sokagakkai sect, they’ve given up on that and just repeat, “The name of the Lotus sutra,” again and again, thinking that gains them favor. That’s a textbook example of what Jesus said not to do! (Matthew 6:7) For that matter, even within Christianity the idea that repeating rote prayers gains favor is sadly persistent. The Lord’s Prayer is a marvelous pattern for us to follow, but we need to fill in our own details and pray it from our heart. And that doesn’t touch on the practice of praying to various saints. Why would we pray to anyone less than God, when Jesus assured us that the Father loves us and hears us? (John 16:26-27) The devil hates prayer, because it provides us with a direct connection to our omnipotent Father, and when we have that we will never be defeated by evil. As James said, when we’re properly related to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee. (James 4:7) That’s why the devil tries to confuse us about prayer, making us think it’s difficult or complicated and not worth the trouble. None of those things are true! It’s no more difficult or complicated than a baby saying Papa or Dada to their father, and nothing could be more worthwhile. We run into trouble only when we try to dictate to God, or when we fail to believe that He’s listening.
I could obviously go on at length about that! As I’ve said repeatedly, I grew up in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing, and that is an incredible blessing. The awkward thing for me personally is trying to teach others to pray, when it comes so naturally and easily to me. One of our church members, who is both faithful and effective in prayer, said that something I mentioned to her resulted in a breakthrough in her prayer life. The idea isn’t original with me, but I told her to sit in a chair with an empty chair facing her, imagine Jesus sitting in that chair, and just talk to Him. She hasn’t stopped praying since she tried that! God has given Cathy a vision of a prayer ministry that has the potential to transform the Japanese Church, and I feel I am to speak on prayer this coming Sunday. I need to let the Lord have full control of my words and stop accepting the devil’s lie that “I can’t teach prayer.” God can, and He can use me to do it!
Father, thank You for the incredible torrent of blessings You have been pouring out on me, particularly recently. Help me indeed believe and trust You, making the use that You intend of all that You pour out one me, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!