The first thing we need to do in regard to the matter of prayer is establish its true meaning. The idea of prayer carries with it so much religious baggage that even the mention of praying turns many people off.
When I was in seminary we studied prayer. We tore the bible apart to determine all of the different types of prayer. We even discovered that David prayed what are called imprecatory prayers. These are prayers that call upon God to destroy others; ‘to smash their teeth”, as David would say.
Then there were the infamous Wednesday night prayer meetings. As a young Christian I can remember well those boring prayer gatherings. We spent about forty minutes taking prayer requests and then finally got to praying after we had discussed the latest juicy piece of information about others who ‘needed’ prayer.
And lets not forget the prayer Agenda. That’s when the pastor prayers his sermon mentioning all five points so that the congregation doesn’t forget what he preached about. I am sure God heard it the first time he said it. Prayer has just become a reiteration of the sermon. Just listen to the pastor’s prayer when he’s finished preaching. He’s really not talking to God; he’s talking to you and me. Or how about the prayer at the political gathering or the sporting event? You won’t convince me that within the heart of the person praying there is an unspoken desire for God to help them prevail or win.
My understanding of prayer was dramatically changed many years ago as a fairly new Christian. Some kindly saint wanted me to grow in my relationship with Jesus. She gave me a book that changed my life. It has become one of the most formative books in my spiritual journey. The book is Prayer, Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker. This is a must read if you want to really understand what prayer is about.
Prayer is engaging in conversation. It requires listening as well as speaking. When God created Adam and Eve it was not because He needed a gardener. It was because He wanted someone to talk to. The only difference between conversation with other people and conversation with God is that we call the later‘prayer’. It is conversation with the most precious, best, wonderful friend you will ever have in this life and in the next.
Jesus said, “When you pray” not “if you pray”. That is why he instructed us to go into the secret place. So we could have a conversation with Him.
He is waiting for you there right now…. (Matthew 6:6)
Have you ever just simply gotten tired of stuff?
I was preparing for a major ministry trip to Asia at the beginning of this year. Not only did I have to pack for the journey ahead, I really needed to prepare my heart and spirit so I could really hear the Lord without distractions. But taking care of all of my stuff got in the way. One day, as I squeezed time from my schedule to wait upon the Lord in the secret place, this is what He said to me.
My son you are so caught up with material things. Your stuff has become an idol. It keeps you from me. Turn from your stuff to me. Maintain your relationship with me. Make this a priority in your life. It is time, it is time, it is time. What lies before you is overwhelming without me. The world is your Parrish now. Indeed my son, the nations are and will be calling you.
The war between Spirit and stuff is raging more so than ever.
We have so much stuff. We buy stuff, sell stuff and maintain stuff and when we run out of space we rent more so we can store our stuff. One of the fastest growing businesses is storage lockers. There is a TV series called Storage Wars where people bid on the stuff that others have never gone back to claim. My question is not about the stuff people left behind, but about the people themselves. What really happened in their lives that made their stuff unimportant to them?
The Bible has a lot to Say About Stuff
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)
God really spoke to me about my stuff. I had to make a decision. I decided to simplify my life. After all, how much do I really need?
Are you a Victim of or victor over your stuff? Does it keep you from His presence?
Anything that you cannot walk away from is a prison. The rich young ruler discovered that reality. Love God and the things of God, not the world and the things of the world.Demonstrate your passion for Jesus, by spending time with Him in the secret place.
Dr. Dale Fife has served the Body of Christ for over 50 years as a caring pastor, insightful teacher, gifted musician, and best-selling author. His wisdom, maturity, and genuine spiritual concern for others have caused many to regard him as a "spiritual father" in the Lord. His insightful teaching has inspired and blessed thousands around the world.