Thursday, February 10, 2005

Disciples Know (10)

Disciples Know to Keep Praying
Matthew 6:5-15
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

"This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

"For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:5-15 TNIV)
Powerful prayers aren't dependent on the prominence or the proficiency of the one praying. Prayers that get heard in heaven are simply prayers which are like a child's simple words to their Father.

Now in our heart of hearts we know that, don't we? But it's not about what we know, it's about what we pray.

You do still pray, don't you? Or have you long since lapsed from the habit of talking with your Father?

Why?

Perhaps it was a deliberate decision. You can even name the date and the circumstances when you simply being a talker with your Maker.

But I doubt it.

I suspect you're like most who used to pray, but who simply don't anymore. You didn't consciously decide to quit the conversation, you just let it lapse.

And why?

You may not even know now. More than likely it was a lot of little things that you allowed to get in the way. You let the distractions and the interruptions of life break your most personal link with the Lord.

Perhaps one of those distractions was that person down at church you're thinking about right now. You know - the one who always leads essentially the same prayer every time they lead the church in prayer. If they were to keel over in the middle of their prayer, you could finish the prayer for them and except for the body, no one would know the difference. The same rote phrases – far removed and untouched by the needs of the moment. Generic and bland, tasteless and meaningless.

Maybe you heard that sort of prayer just one too many a time. Maybe you swore in your heart something like this:

"I tell you what, I'll never pray like them! If they actually think a single thought what they're praying (which I doubt!) it must surely be about themselves. Oh, I watched how they approached the podium - they almost seemed to strut! And then they just drone on and on with their meaningless babble. No siree, this is enough for me - I'm outa here!"

And you were and you still are. "Outa here." Silent. Prayerless.

I'd ask you to consider this - when you don't pray, you're calling attention to yourself. You're relying on your own resources. You're saying, in effect:

"I don't need anything from you right now, God. I've got matters well in hand. I won't trouble you with the petty stuff. But if I come calling, you know I'm in a bind and I'd be obliged if you'd dive in then."

And you thought those prayers full of tired old phrases was out of touch!

You know, I've conducted funerals for people who have long since ceased to talk with a parent. For "good reason" or not, it isn't a pretty picture. No matter what you say or how you say it, nothing can cut through the icy chill in the room from every heart there that knows of the lack of real relationship.

I personally pray you won't be one of those funerals.

Talk to your Father. Start praying again. Now.
". . . go into your room, close the door and pray . . ."
Pray for God to grow the child in your heart that knows how to simply say what's on your heart. Pray for the forgiveness of that person who seems to think of themselves a bit too much in prayer. Pray that God will forgive you for putting your relationship with them on ice. And then pray that you won't draw undo attention to yourself and get in the way of your own prayers anymore - whether by arrogance or negligence.
". . . pray to your Father . . .”