Thursday, February 15, 2007
If you want to make someone feel like a real spiritual dwarf just talk about the "hours" you spend in prayer. You do spend "hours" at a time in prayer don't you? Why that's got to be one of the clearest and purest signs of spiritual maturity, right? Let's see, the sum total of prayer training that most Christians receive consists of a two minute Sunday morning "formal" prayer and a ten second offering of "grace" before devouring a meal. Then we talk about "hours" of prayer and utterly squash any sense of spirituality that young or immature Christians have. Do most Christians understand that seeking to know God is building a relationship with God? It's not just gathering info about Him, but creating a closeness that makes Him real, present, and powerful in our life. If that is true, do you know of any relationship that started out with long periods of communication? Eventually, yes, but to start with, most relationships are learning, sharing, asking, and usually lots of short discussions over a long period of time. AND THAT IS WITH TOUCHABLE FLESH AND BLOOD! How much more time is it necessary for a relationship based on faith? Once a relationship is established and strong, the deeper and longer periods of communication happen naturally. It's not forced, it's part of an intimate relationship. Prayer is the most important element in building a relationship with God. By it's very nature, it must start out short and simple, but as often as we can make it. Prayer is simply inviting God into the thoughts of our heart. The more we do it, the more real and present He becomes. The "baby steps" become mature adult steps and we talk about all kinds of things without any regard to time. If it's not part of a natural growth in our relationship to God, it simply becomes a forced ritual for the purposes of self-righteousness. Anyone wanting a relationship with God, who doesn't know how to make it happen, must think "baby steps" when it comes to prayer. Talk to God all day long in short, but intentional efforts to make Him an integral part of your life. It will grow as you get to know Him better.
Two things to chew on. How much praying did the apostles do during their three and a-half years of walking with Jesus? You say, "Well, they had Jesus" but even Jesus felt the need to spend a lot of time talking to His Father and He was disappointed with their inability to pray in the Garden. And secondly, why is the "Model Prayer" one of the shortest prayers in all the Bible? (Jews, who needed to be taught how to prayer? Go figure?) Maybe the point is that it's not the "hours" of prayer, but the heart of prayer that God is looking for.