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Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

With our busy schedules these days my wife and I have decided to institute a new system for communication. We find ourselves almost like two ships passing in the night with differing work schedules, soccer practice, music lessons and church responsibilities. Hopefully this new system will draw us closer together. Here it is.

We’ve decided only to talk to each other once a day, except for a hasty, distracted ‘thank you’ at meal times. Most days talking will only take place in bed after the lights are out. That way if we fall asleep in the middle of conversation it won’t be a big deal. We’ll already be ‘in position’ so to speak. Also, rather than waste the precious time for communication on non-essentials, we will only use communication to ask each other for things. After all, that’s what’s really important, right? Just in case you think this sounds a little harsh, we are including the ‘Crisis Clause’. This little number allows us some extra time for communication during times of extreme stress. Of course, some days get long and so we also have an agreement that if we miss talking to each other for several days…or weeks, it’s understood that we still love each other and are passionately interested in each other.

I’m looking forward to this new system. It should make things much better between us.

Hopefully, by now, you are screaming, “NO WAIT! That will never work. You need to increase the level and depth of conversation if you want your relationship to grow stronger.” In fact, if you aren’t screaming that, if you are thinking of adopting my new communication system, I’m worried about you.

Those of us who are Christ-followers know the importance of prayer. However, to my own guilt, it’s the one thing that often gets overlooked in our daily walk. Perhaps it’s time to rethink how we look at prayer. As Max Lucado says in his book, ‘Come Thirsty’, “Think of prayers less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God.”

One of the things I appreciate about family road trips is the amount of talking that takes place when you are ‘trapped’ in a vehicle for hours. It’s not an organized activity; it’s just what you do. Prayer should be like that. Sure there need to be those times when you get alone to be ‘intimate’ with the father, to talk about those things that are heavy on your heart, but sometimes the best conversations can be those one or two word comments as you walk the path of life.

Your Father is passionately in love with you. Even though he’s with you every step of the way, he looks forward to hearing from you. Talk with him throughout the day. It not only reminds him of your love for him, it reminds you of his continual presence with you. Like any proud parent he wants to hear about your day; the exciting things, the scary things; the things that puzzle you. Neglecting conversation with your Father will have the same effect as neglecting conversation with those you love here on earth. It will make you feel alone and unloved.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the gift of prayer. Thank you for loving me so much that you want to hear about every part of my day. Forgive me for the times I’ve ignored you. Help me to be constantly aware of your love and presence in my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Matthew 6:7 (CEV)

Two men prepare to enter the sanctuary. One walks boldly to the front. Well dressed and confident he lifts his eyes to heaven and begins to talk. Those around him listen carefully and are impressed with his words. He is, to them at least, obviously a very spiritual man. A few in attendance nod in agreement to his words. Others hope that one day they too will be able to pray like he does.

The second man goes largely unnoticed. He walks, almost stumbles as a drunk, towards the front. His chin rests on his chest. He dare not look up. He quietly finds a place in the corner pew. A few give him a passing glance and look away. He’s recognized but not acknowledged. It’s been years since he was here. It’s been longer than that since he’d prayed. Looking at the floor he looks for the words. They don’t come. How did he get here? More importantly, how can he come back? Will God even accept him?

Finally he speaks. His words go unnoticed for they are quiet, humble and simple words. “Oh God…I’m sorry,” was all he could muster up to say.

Jesus says the second man, not the first will have his prayer heard. The pious prayer, the lengthy prayer full of theological mumble jumble may impress men, but not God. Listen to your prayers sometime. If you talked with your lover the way you talk with God what would your love relationship be like? If during your times of passion with the one who means more to you than life itself you said the same words, in the same tone as yesterday and the day before and the day before, would you be sincere?

There are some that say God doesn’t answer prayer, that he’s distant, uninterested or that their prayers never go beyond the ceiling. The sad thing is, they are probably correct. For unless we have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Father can’t hear our prayers, unless they are sincere, heartfelt prayers of repentance. They are meaningless babble.

Even those of us who are Christ-followers need to evaluate our prayer life.  Your Heavenly Father would rather you just talk with him than have you pray to him. I’ve heard parents pray with their children and use it as an opportunity to tell their child what he needs to do. I’ve heard pastors use the ‘closing prayer’ as an opportunity to get the last point of their sermon in. I’m embarrassed to admit that at times my prayers turn into a wandering treatise with no direction.

What would our churches, our homes, our families be like if we as Christ-followers learned how to talk with God as two passionate lovers talk during those intimate times of life? How would we change? How would our view of God change? How would we see God move in miraculous and powerful ways?

One of the most meaningful prayers I’ve ever heard was the time a friend of mine laid his hand on my shoulder and in broken words said simply, “I…I…don’t have words. God, I pray for Mike.” It wasn’t fancy. It was a prayer of love from the heart that rose to heaven like a sweet aroma to the God of the universe.

PRAYER: Father God. Daddy. I come before you humbly. I pray for me. I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I ask that you would forgive those of us who have never learned to sit and passionately talk with you. Empower us with your Spirit to have the desire to sit and chat with you so that we can see your power manifest in us like we have never seen before. In your most holy and righteous name, Amen.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

This may be more a ‘guy’ thing than a trait of the human race, but have you ever noticed how hard it is to ask for help on some project? If something is too heavy for you but you can ‘manage to move it’ you risk hurting your back before asking for help. You make due with the wrong tool before going to the neighbor to borrow his when you know he has just what you need and will be happy to loan it to you. You struggle with some problem at home or at work for hours before asking for advice on how to get it done. Come on now, admit it. You’ve done it. We all have.

Why is that? What is it within our human psyche that makes us risk our very lives before asking for help? It could be that we think the job is too small to ask for help. Even though it’s more than we can handle we don’t want to bother someone else with our problems. Perhaps it’s a question of image. We feel like we’ll look bad, inadequate or stupid for seeking out assistance, or that we aren’t worthy of anyone’s help.

What’s true in our physical lives is true in the spiritual realm as well. When a severe crisis happens like cancer or job loss or relational destruction, we ask for prayer. We even pray ourselves. Usually people pray more often in crisis than any other time.

We read verses like Hebrews 4:16 and may be misled into thinking that the verse is telling us that we can (or should) only approach God in our time of need. However, we may insert ‘great need’ in there without thinking.

We look at our lives and think we shouldn’t bother God with trivial things in life, only the big things. We remember our failings and hesitate to come to him because there is sin in our lives. We look at people who don’t believe in prayer and take the attitude that ‘if they don’t need help, I don’t need help.’

Here’s a tidbit of advice for all of us as we go about our day; as we encounter the little annoyances of our life. Don’t believe the lie that God is only interested in hearing from you in crisis. He wants to hear about everything going on.

Have a problem with a co-worker talking too much at work? Tell your Father in heaven about it. Can’t quite figure out how to finish that project at home? Tell him that too. As Christ-follower we need to constantly remind ourselves that God isn’t in heaven. He’s here! We pray the Lord’s Prayer and ask his Kingdom to be here on earth but live as though he’s far away.

Your Heavenly Father is with you 24/7. No problem is too large or too small for him to handle. Nothing you can do or say to him will be considered unimportant or uninteresting. After all. YOU are HIS child! What loving father doesn’t look forward to hearing about his child’s day? He cherishes the time he can have with you.

PRAYER: Father I confess that this verse is one I think of often when I’m in crisis. There are so many times I avoid asking for help because of my own feelings of inadequacy, guilt or because I don’t think it’s important enough to bother you. Forgive me for thinking you aren’t interested or willing to help me in the mundane things of life. Empower me to see you as a constant, present and interested friend. In Jesus name, Amen.


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November 2022
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