Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 4

Introduction continued...

As with every other study we’ve done throughout the life of this web log, we will be deferring to the word of God, and allowing it to teach us. No, we will not adopt a certain denomination’s view of prayer, nor a certain theologian’s interpretation of what prayer is, but rather discover what the Bible has to say about it. In the end, what God has to say about something holds more weight, and is exceedingly more relevant for us as believers, than what men have to say, and knowing that God speaks to us through His word, it is through His word that we will discover the significance of prayer in a Christian’s life.

So what is prayer, and what does it entail from a biblical standpoint?

First of all, prayer is a universal need of mankind. Prayer is not an option, it is a necessity. For the spiritual man, prayer is like oxygen, keeping him alive and healthy.

Psalm 65:1-2, “Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; and to You the vow shall be performed. O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.”

Prayer is essential for everyone, from babes in Christ, to mature warriors for Christ, from pastors, to preachers, to ushers, to laymen. It is because we’ve redefined prayer in our day and age, and made it seem less important, relevant, and necessary than it truly is, that many a believer neglects prayer altogether, or says a handful of words once in a while, absent passion or desire.

When I first got my social security number, after arriving in America, apparently someone had told my grandmother that it was the single most important thing you had to memorize, and she dutifully passed on the information to me.

We arrived in a Romanian community, and much of what they believed about the American system was hearsay at best. Evidently, the person my grandmother had talked to told her that the police could stop you on the street at any minute, and if you didn’t have your number memorized you could go to prison.

And so, every morning I would get up and recite the nine numbers automatically for many months until it became habitual. Even to this day I know my social security number, and can recite it without thinking about it. So what’s the point of this trip down memory lane? The habitual way in which I recited my social security number every morning, is how most believers approach prayer. It’s not something they think about, there is no passion behind it, it is not a conversation, it is a recital.

Prayer is communion and fellowship with God. Prayer is speaking to God and knowing that He hears. When we go about it as a routine more than as fellowship, our prayers are lifeless, powerless, limp and stale and reach as far as the room we happen to be in.

Prayer is a privilege; it is an opportunity to talk to God, not a chore we hurry through every day just to get it over with.

Often times how we do a thing, is as important as the fact that we do it.

When I’m at home, I like to cook for myself. When I’m on the road however, I have no choice but to eat out. In every restaurant, the function of the waitress is to serve your meal, clear the table afterwards, and hope to receive compensation by way of gratuity once her task is complete. Although the function is the same for every waitress that has ever donned a uniform and an apron, the way they perform their task, the way they do their job differentiates them.

There is a marked difference between a waitress who smiles, pulls out her notepad and asks ‘what can I get you?’ and one who’s chewing gum, flicking dirt off her fingernails, one hand planted on her hip, asking ‘whatcha want?’ as though your presence there was the greatest inconvenience of her life.

How do you approach prayer? Do you approach the act of prayer as a solemn grace, a privilege and an honor, or as a mandatory task you must perform that you really rather wouldn’t?

The way in which you approach prayer, will determine whether or not you are receptive to the voice of God when He speaks, whether or not your heart is open toward Him, and whether or not you are really there to fellowship with Him, and not simply to get brownie points for showing up.

It is not God that should feel honored that we come to Him in prayer; it is we who should feel honored for having the opportunity to fellowship with Him.

The Creator of the Universe, of all that is seen and unseen, makes time for a speck of dust such as me. What greater honor could one feel than knowing that God is listening, hearing, and responding to our prayers?

We get tongue tied, and start to blush when we meet an athlete, or an actor, or even a politician, we try to get as close to them as we can, maybe even get a picture taken with them, yet when it comes to being in the presence of God, we look upon it as a cumbersome chore.

God is not some aging retiree in a retirement home just happy for the visit and the time you spend with Him, He is the One who spoke the universe into being, the one who breathed life into a lump of clay, the one who created all things by His word.

When we fall into the snare of redefining who God is, and begin to see Him as the bearded fellow up in the sky, our buddy, our pal, and not the Lord, the King, the God of the universe, we come before Him in a slothful manner, lacking the reverence rightly due Him, and begin to believe that the privilege is His rather than ours.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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