Okay, you might think I have gone senile and am losing it, but it’s a really valid question. Do you pray to occupy a prescribed time or do you pray to connect to and communicate with God? Do you pray to “get points” with God or others or do you really desire a special, intimate, personal fellowship with Him?
There are prayers out there, and I have written a number of them personally, to be read and recited as appropriate. So, I know that prayers can be repeated and be sincere and not vain or empty or useless in that sense. Some can indeed repeat the same prayers daily and mean them with their whole hearts, while others can do the same repetition, and their prayers get no further than the ceiling.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
When you really pray, you have a desire to share what’s in your heart with God, whether it’s about you, others or even His word. God loves to hear that kind of prayer. It’s sincere and open and helps us to be alert for His response because prayer can truly be interactive. Many are the times when I have questions, and God leads me to just the right scriptures in His word, and I do indeed pray that it’s the same for you. Below are scriptures of how not to live spiritually.
Matthew 23:13, 23(NIV)
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
When you really pray, you see yourself for who you really are spiritually and still approach God’s throne boldly. That’s what the sinner did in the parable of the publican and the sinner, also known as the Pharisee and the tax collector. Scripture tells us that the sinner’s prayer was accepted while the publican’s wasn’t. It’s obvious that the publican needed an attitude adjustment. So often when the finger of observation is pointed outward, it needs to be pointed inward instead.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When you really pray, your focus becomes God’s focus. In essence, prayer like that changes you to become more like the love that God is. You want to connect to God to share what’s going on with you and with Him. You want God to connect to you and have you experience His Presence in ways you haven’t before. You want God to connect to you so that He can guide your steps in this world’s minefield.
So, when you pray, do you really pray? If you haven’t done so before, can you begin right now?
Let’s pray together: Father God, thanks for showing me the difference between praying and really praying. From this moment on, help me to really pray so that I can be a good vessel or instrument for You to use where and when You see fit. That’s what it’s all about. Help me to live within Your parameters so that I can be Jesus to those You send across my path. Help me to see Jesus in everyone and help me to love like You do and, where appropriate, to speak spiritual truth in that love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
copyright 2014, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved