Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Just Learn To Pray

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by White Point. There I have a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, the Palos Verdes shoreline, and Catalina Island, and nothing man-made to interrupt the scenery. Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Perhaps that’s why White Point is one of my favorite places to visit when I want to spend time with God.

It had been a couple of months since I had taken the time to quiet myself and listen for God’s small, still voice. I wasn’t feeling troubled, but at the same time I didn’t sense the communion with God that I enjoy. As I stood at the railing over the bluffs, I wondered why I had allowed so much time to go by? I had been so busy with work, home, and church. I felt as though I hadn’t had any deep God time in so long. I hadn’t spent much time in prayer; hadn’t journaled; my latest blog posts were taken from journal entries that were months old. My God time had been limited pretty much to church activities, and singing to what I heard on the car radio and cd player, and reading God’s Word but not meditating. I was starting to become a “look at me” Christian, wanting to do things for God, but forgetting that He wants us to do things WITH Him. How did I let things get that way? And it happened so fast!
It’s hard to explain, but God had been kind of like a wristwatch. You have it on all the time, but you don’t use it 24/7. And even though you don’t use it, you feel like something’s missing when you don’t wear it, until finally you don’t miss it at all.

“Life would be so simple if we all just learned to pray.” The statement doesn’t say “learn how to pray.” It says “learn to pray. I know how to play chess. I know that the object of the game is to put your opponent’s king in a position where it is unprotected. I know what moves the different pieces can make, that a knight moves in an “L”, the bishop moves diagonally, and the queen, well, the queen does whatever pleases her (almost). But there’s a difference between knowing how to play chess and actually playing the game. Similarly, we know how to pray. Jesus taught us with The Lord’s Prayer. We have “formulas” for prayer. For example, ACTS -- Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. But what good is knowing how to pray if we don’t do it?

In many social circles outside of Chess Club, chess is not the game of choice. Likewise, away from church, prayer is not the “in” thing to do with our friends. Why do people shy away from praying with others? Because for some, it seems foreign to us. We don’t see it done enough to feel comfortable without someone coaching us. The tendency is to treat prayer as if it were for show… a competition of sorts.

When a baby “talks” to his parents, those unintelligible gurgles are the sweetest sounds to a mom or dad’s ears. The words don’t matter. What matters is that the baby is communicating with the parents that brought him into this world. It’s the same thing with prayer. Prayer is communicating with the God who knew us since before he created the world we live in. Our words don’t have to be fancy, educated words. Our words don’t even need to make sense -- God gave us the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf. What matters is that our communication with God is genuine, and from the heart.

Don’t think you can pray out loud for someone else? Next time you’re with friends, turn to one of them and say, “I thank God that you’re my friend! And I hope God is good to you today.” ….. Guess what….. You just prayed for your friend!

See, it’s not so hard, is it?

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