Unfortunately, I am not one of those people that prayer comes to naturally; at least, not most of the time. In fact, there are many times that I struggle to pray. Now that’s a tough admission for someone who has been to seminary and has devoted the last decade of my life to studying the Bible and to trying to follow God’s commands for His people. And, by the way, prayer is a command!
After all, prayer is one of the foundations of a Christian life. And I believe in prayer. In fact, I love it when I am “in the zone” and prayer just flows from my very pores – my innermost being. However, that doesn’t happen as often as I would like. Oh, I yearn to be in communion with God all the time, but it just doesn’t happen. That’s what makes days like today so special. It’s been one of those days when I was in communion with God; from the first thing this morning, and it’s still going on right now. Ever had one of those days?
Frequently, it’s quite the opposite. I get caught up in the fray of the day and get too busy to dedicate myself to the will of God. With Thanksgiving, and out of town company, Christmas decorations and everything else going on in my life, sometimes prayer just seems to take a back seat. Oh, I am thankful for all the blessings in my life and for the work that God is doing in my family, but I fall short of expressing that grateful adoration in a manner consistent with my beliefs and education. In other words, I know better.
Theologically, prayer can take a variety of forms. As is the case with music, prayer is a form of worship. Interestingly, I can’t tell you how many people have told me about choosing a church because they like the music. Yet the Scripture indicates that music is to be sung to worship God and it doesn’t make any difference if it appeals to us or not. I know that sounds odd, and some of you are probably balking right now, but that’s the truth. Yet as Christians, we tend to do things that are pleasing to us rather than pleasing to God. So it can be with prayer.
Another form of prayer is when we need help. We pray when we feel like praying; or when we are in trouble and need God to deliver us in his “hosad” (merciful loving kindness). Yet God commands us to pray and Paul even tells us to pray without ceasing. Greek monks have spent their entire adult lives learning how to pray while they are doing other things.
Sometimes we pray out of grateful appreciation for having been delivered from some adverse consequence in our lives. How many times I have prayed for something because I have made a mistake and God has delivered me from a bad outcome.
And at other times, prayers are offered to God asking for forgiveness. When I know that I have done something wrong, and am truly repentent, I offer prayers to God asking for Him to forgive me. Christ taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
But the best kind of prayers are the ones that just flow out of admiration and adoration of God and His son, Jesus Christ. Those are the kinds of prayers that don’t even have to include any spoken words – they start somewhere deep inside you and can take your breath away. For a brief moment, you get a glimpse of the awesome magnitude of God and feel like you are the only one in the universe, who has God all to yourself, if only for a brief moment. And those are the types of prayers that tend to be fleeting. But once you have experienced that awesome connection with God, you want it again, and again…
Such was the case with me today. On and off, I have felt the peace of God and caught glimpses of Him throughout the various meetings and quiet times of my day. And I am grateful to God for allowing me to have such a special time with Him.
The verse for tonight is from Col. 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” In other words, watch for opportunities to commune with God and be thankful when you are in the presence of the Father and His Son.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that each of us has opportunities to experience God on such a grand scale. We just have to have our eyes open and recognize those moments when God softly knocks on our hearts, through the Holy Spirit, and desires a special time with us. And it’s a shame if we don’t stop whatever we’re doing when we get that special nudge from the Holy Spirit to spent a few minutes with our Creator. My prayer is that you will experience these profound, life-changing moments with God this holiday season. Just keep your eyes and your heart open – sometimes the knock is just a small whisper from God…