Thursday, September 18, 2014
Serving God in a box: Prayer
I thought about praising God, worshiping God, praying to God, and some other "God" stuff, and came to the realization I have been serving God in a box.
I have heard many people say you can't put God in a box. He operates outside of our expectations and what we are used to. And that is true. Yet I have attempted to serve Him inside of a box. And I seriously doubt I am the only one. Among other areas, these come to mind:
1) Prayer. I used to hear preachers and others say you needed to pray "until you prayed through". I never could figure out exactly what that meant, but I was pretty sure I wasn't doing it right.
I'd go to church and hear people pray eloquently and like a house on fire. If you don't know what it means to pray like a house on fire, then you have never heard anyone pray like that. I'd listen, and pray myself.... pray that they wouldn't call on me, for I could never pray like that.
One should never compare oneself with others, and the area of prayer is no different. It doesn't matter if we can pray like Paul or John. That isn't what it is about. But we have our prayer box that we try to stay in:
Prayers must be a certain length
Eyes must be closed, head bowed
You must kneel, stand, bow on one knee......depending on your church
You must be able to say God in several syllables.
I can never measure up to the praying I hear from some of the people at my church. I think public prayer is just like anything else in life. Some people are better at it and have a gift for it. Others..... not so much.
But prayer isn't about doing it in public. Prayer is talking to God. When Jesus talked about prayer, He talked about going into your closet and doing it in private. Does that mean public prayer is wrong? Absolutely not, unless we are doing it to be seen and heard. But we should be more concerned about our private prayer life, than our public prayer life.
Prayer is talking to God, and it really isn't normal to just go high speed. non-stop when you're talking to someone, so why do we have to do it with God? I don't do that when I am praying in bed. Yeah, that's where I pray. I break all of the "rules" of prayer. I blew that box up long ago.
I pray lying down in bed. (99% of the time I have no problem staying awake)
I pray with my eyes open most of the time (hey, the room is dark anyway). I actually feel closer to God if I pray with my eyes open.
I ramble. No concise, well thought out prayers that are worth printing in a book of prayers. I jump from topic to topic, often with long pauses in between.
They aren't long. Sometimes they are. I think its just as wrong to go on and on just so we can feel we prayed long enough, as it is to toss out a quick prayer with no effort or thought. This is talking to the God of the universe. Our Father in Heaven. And if you look at the model for prayer that Jesus gave, it is pretty short. Actually, it is VERY short, compared to most prayers.
And I get that it is a model for praying and that it doesn't mean we have to keep them that short, but it does bring up a good point: with that as the model for prayer, where did we get the idea that prayers have to be long?
In no way am I knocking people who do pray long - except for food and in church. Kind of kidding on that last. Don't catch up on your devotions when called on to pray in church. I have heard people I wondered silently if they were doing just that. We need people who are prayer warriors. And as we mature as Christians, we are going to pray longer most of the time. We just shouldn't feel bound to a time frame, nor should we do it so we can mark it off of our mental checklist.
It shouldn't be work. It shouldn't be something we feel we have to do, but something we want to do.
I am no expert on prayer. Books have been preached on it, sermons have been preached on it, but do we really have to read books on how to pray? Ironically, I am reading a book right now on prayer. But it is one that makes is simple.
And that is how it should be: simple. We don't have to pray a certain way, in a certain position, or in a certain place. God wants us to talk to Him, and He wants us to want to talk to Him. Nothing fancy, just conversation between a child and his Father.
Don't put God in a box, but don't put praying to Him in a box either.