Monday, April 10, 2017

Walk and Talk - Prayer

What do you believe about prayer?

Last week, I found myself offering to bring a meal, or watch kids, or do anything for a family that I knew was going through a hard time. Each offer of service was politely declined. They had things covered. They were facing the challenge with God's grace and were not worried. Yet, I desperately wanted to "do" something for them. Of course, I said that I would pray, but I really wanted to "do" something. There had to be something, anything that I could "do."

I walked away from this dad and immediately felt the Holy Spirit prick my heart. "Just" pray? It was as if the Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear, isn't praying "doing" something?!

A few days later, I sat in on the staff devotional time at the church where I work at and listened to the discussion on prayer. The pastor challenged the staff to think about what Paul meant when he extolled the Christians to "pray without ceasing." One minister transparently commented that we as Christians in America don't seem to "need" to pray that way. We only pray when something is wrong, or not "right" in our spheres of influence. An administrative assistant said that to "pray continually" was an attitude to maintain.

Both thoughts were convicting, especially as the Holy Spirit brought to mind my encounter with this hurting, overwhelmed father a few days prior.

What do my actions and attitudes say about what I believe about prayer?

I know the Sunday School answers to that question.

If I am asked by one of the teens in my Sunday School class, I wouldn't hesitate to talk about how I know God hears and answers prayers. I would encourage that young, inquiring Christian to mediate on how amazing that it is that THE God, Creator of all we see and know would listen AND answer the prayers of a seemingly insignificant individual. I would make sure I included how prayer changes things and how prayer changes us. I would want to make sure I clearly communicated that prayer is also how God clearly communicates with us as well.

Yet, in my real life situations and circumstances, prayer doesn't seem to be enough. I go through my days with a self-sufficiency that says I don't need to pray; I don't need God. An attitude of prayer? I am just too busy to maintain that kind of focus.


The same night of the staff devotion, I gathered with a group of sweet friends at our local Panera. I asked them to pray for me without hesitation, because I knew that they would. I know that they value prayer and that they believe in the power of prayer.

My prayer request of my friends is evidence that I do believe deep down what I would say I believe about prayer.

The gentle pricking of my heart by the Holy Spirit is simply a part of the sanctifying dance that God is using to make me more like His Son, as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling --- God was gracefully prompting me to pray.

I need to pray but not like I've been praying lately. I need to pray in a continual attitude that says I need Him. I need to value the prayers I pray for others as "doing" the most important thing that I can "do" for anyone.

I need to walk the walk that I would talk about believing when it comes to prayer.

It also makes me question where else my talk and my walk aren't quite matching up.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!"
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV 

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