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The Lord has said: “These people praise me with their words, but they never really think about me. They worship me by repeating rules made up by humans. Isaiah 29:13

“Now I lay me down to sleep…”

It’s a simple childhood prayer. One repeated by countless children in the past. For many it’s their first prayer. For far too many it’s as deep as their prayer life goes. Are the words of this simple prayer meaningless? Do we really believe that the God of the universe is so concerned about miniscule me that he’ll watch over me in the night? Are they dead words?

“God is great, God is good…”

We sit before a table full of food. More food perhaps than the majority of the world sees in a month. Do we believe God IS good with all the starving children and homeless people? Do we believe God is GREAT when disease and violence are ravaging our families and killing our children? Some before they are even born? Are the words we pray for table grace dead words? Words we repeat with no meaning, no thought, no real belief they are true?

I have a dear Christian friend who, for all his gifts and talents, can’t manage his time to save his soul. Countless numbers of times he’s forced to call people and tell them he can’t make this appointment or that appointment because he’s double booked. Sometimes he completely misses appointments because he’s forgotten to write them down or check the calendar on his high tech equipment. Much as I love the guy, I can’t trust him to be where he says he’ll be. His words are dead words because they aren’t followed consistently with action.

I get countless prayer requests on social media. I’ve learned to pray for a situation first and then post my agreement in prayer for people I don’t even know. Do I really believe my prayer for a situation will make any difference? Are my words dead words? Words without thought or expectation of action?

As I sing songs of worship or raise my hands in praise or open my Bible for study. Are my actions out of duty or truly out of worship of a God who has taken my worthlessness and made it new?

The Father speaks to us through his prophet Isaiah. The message is simple. Think before you speak of him. Humble yourself before proclaiming your allegiance. Put actions to your words wherever possible. Always, always pray in the Spirit. The Spirit brings life. The Spirit brings truth.

This isn’t a treatise against simple prayers or written prayers. It’s not an attack on any form of worship. It’s simply a reminder to all of us that our Father, the God of the universe is not impressed with our words or religious activity; He’s blessed by pure hearts. Hearts that are broken before him.

PRAYER: Father, I’m humbled today by my own words. I confess that too often the things I do ‘for you’ are really things to make me feel better about myself. May my words be full of life and action through your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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January 2014
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