january 23rd - Prayer changes things
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him." Matt 6:5-8 (NKJV)
"Prayer Changes Things," declared the bumper sticker on an impossibly old VW Microbus. Although I ultimately agree that prayer can make a significant difference--prayer is neither a scientific formula nor a magical solution. (Please keep reading and hear me out) I have listened to a plethora of teaching on the subject of prayer and am surprised of how often it misses the mark. Prayer is not scientific in that we can not replicate a specific formula that always delivers the same result. Prayer is not magical in that we are not binding the power of God to do our bidding. We should also avoid deifying prayer--making prayer the object of our affection and worship. Still..."Prayer Changes Things!"
What does prayer change? Let us start with you. If you are entering into a deepening conversation with God; a conversation where you are engaged in listening to His voice, prayer will change you. Prayer is the conduit by which we communicate back and forth with God. When you grasp the beauty and the intimacy that can and should define our relationship with God you will find that your prayer life will lose all semblance of superstition. Jesus instructed us, "When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." (Just ask the 400 prophets of Baal how that worked out for them)
Here is my point: Prayer is about relationship; It is about talking to God; It is about hearing the heart of God and acting in obedience; It is about expressing our love, and lavishing our praise, gratitude and heartfelt affection on our "First Love!" When prayer cracks open the possibilities of what it means to be joined to the power and purposes of God, it becomes the place where impossibilities become possibilities. In the words of James, "The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
In the secret place, sequestered with God, we pray and commune with our Father. No-one even knows how closely we are connected with God and His purposes; but, when we pray, we end up praying the will of the Father--and it is no wonder, for it is God who is living in the center of our hearts.
Author's Note: Elijah, the prophet, was making fun of the prophets of Baal. All 450 prophets of Baal are dancing around, making noise, trying to make something happen. Of course, nothing happened. Baal was not a real god. One man, a true prophet with a pipeline to heaven, prayed a short prayer and called down fire from heaven. Prayer changes things--if you are plugged into God Almighty, Creator of all that is! RJD