February 16, 2012

Importance of Prayer

It's tempting to go into "auto-pilot" when you see the phrase "the importance of prayer."  Yes, yes we all agree prayer is vital!  We all agree that we should do it more.

Prayer should be a constant communication between God and His believers.  This past Sunday in church, my pastor, Glenn, phrased it this way: "Do you count how many minutes you stay on the phone or talk to your significant other?  Then sigh and say,"Whew, only 5 minutes this time.  Good."  Of course not!  We don't consider it a hardship to be in constant communication with those whom we love.  In fact, if we went days or months without talking to a best friend or spouse...wouldn't you consider that relationship on the rocks?

The passage we read this past Sunday was I John 5:13-15:
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."

There's so much to unpack and absorb in this passage, but I just want to share a few points that really stuck with me.

There is no request or concern too trivial to bring to God.  I'm thankful to have had this drilled into my head at a young age.  I have this weird memory from second grade that I can actually recall explaining to a fellow second grader with total confidence, "God cares about everything about me.  Even if my little finger hurts he cares."  Ah, the trusting innocence of childhood.  I think back on that moment and wonder why, as an adult, I neglect to bring even my little "pinkie" problems to Him.  I often want to shrink or sanitize my problems before I bring them to Him.  This is not how our relationship is meant to be.

Asking according to His Will.  It's easy to read this phrase and chuckle, thinking, "Yep, this is the part where God gives himself an out and won't really answer my prayers."  Glenn's illustration to this point was great.  He reminded us that God is not asking us to order off the appetizer menu.  In fact, He is trying to steer us away from the dumpster of our own bad decisions and bring us into the restaurant where we can order the best of the best. 

So what if God doesn't give me what I ask for?  The Bible is full of examples of people who prayed for one thing and another thing happened.  Moses wanted to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land after being in the dessert with them for 40 years.  God said no.  Paul prayed for God to take away the "thorn in his flesh."  God said no.  Even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed that "IF this cup could be removed, please do so."  God said no.  How could they go on when a good God refused to give them what they wanted?  Their understanding of the goodness of God's character wasn't linked to their personal requests, rather it was linked to the CHARACTER of God.

True faith does not demand God to give us what we want when we want it.  We are not allowed to place a timer on our requests.  True faith places weight on the character of God and the knowledge that if He does not give us what we ask for, He will give us something far better.

We serve a mighty and powerful God, who sees the end from the beginning and knows His path for us each day.  Trust and pray, for He is good.

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