Posted tagged ‘prayer urgency’

Meaningless Prayer

June 28, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                June 28, 2018

                                 

“Rub-a-Dub! Thanks for the grub! Yeah, God! Amen!”

There’s been a few of those prayers that I’ve said through the years. How about this one?

“Good food! Good drink! Good God! Let’s eat! Amen!”

Yes, I know! A tint of irreverence in there. Here’s my daily irreverent offering!

“Cream and sugar, sugar and cream! Thank you, God, for coffee with steam! Amen and amen!”

A lot of prayer has a sliver of meaning and a lot of meaninglessness. It gets uttered or muttered, but not spoken. That is, I may speak the words with my lips, but they’ve detoured around my emotions and belief. 

Carol and I gently hold hands as we pray before partaking of the meal in front of us. (Gently holding hands because of her sensitive pinky finger, mind you!) I’ve become accustomed to saying “Thank you, God, for the food and this time together! Amen!” Simple, short, steam still rising from the bowls of mashed potatoes and peas when I’m finished. Quite often, however, I realize that I’ve simply said the words in order to get to the entree! They have carried no meaning, no true sense of thankfulness. 

Being fully present in the words of my prayer is difficult. It’s like when Carol would be saying something to me while I was watching a basketball game. She could throw in a few ad lib lines like “The house is on fire!” and I’d respond with an “Aha”!

Focus, Bill! 

Jesus had a few “Come to Jesus moments!” with the rigidly religious folk of his day. He harped about their words that had no meaning and depth, no urgency or heartfelt thankfulness. The people that he encouraged and affirmed were those who risked something in their prayer and committed themselves to the words they spoke. In essence3, they stood behind their pleas and praises. 

Mark 1:40 tells us about the man with leprosy who begged Jesus to make him clean. To others he was meant to be seen only from a distance, but he risked coming close to God. Mark 5 includes several stories and encounters with Jesus. One of them is about a woman who had a feminine bleeding issue that had spanned twelve years. She simply touched the hem of Jesus garment. That, in essence, was her prayer act…her reaching for the mercy of God. 

And Jesus affirmed her!

We talk a lot about who needs prayer (Look at the prayer concerns list in the weekly church communique!), and discount the praying. It’s like getting all the ingredients together for a double-layer chocolate cake, but never actually making it!

The awareness I have of the prayer shallowness in my life has caused me to focus more of my heartfelt praying in a certain way…asking for forgiveness!

Rearranging My Prayer List

December 17, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       December 17, 2016

                           

Prayer is not my strength.

I recognize in writing that sentence in that way that it was read in different ways by different people. Some may have read it thinking about the power of prayer, and what in the world am I thinking!!!!

Others may have read it and thought I was referring to the lack of effect…the absence of strengthening… that prayer brings into my life.

And still others read it the way I intended it. That is, when compiling a list of my strengths prayer is not one of them. That is not to say that I do not pray, and it not to say that I do not believe in the power and potential of prayer…the difference that prayer makes, but rather it is to say that prayer is seldom my reaction. My first reaction is to think of solutions and construct plans.

Over the years some folk have assumed that prayer was my strength since I am a pastor. Perhaps they thought I had a habit of rising at 5:30 and heading into my prayer closet. The truth is that I do often rise at 5:30, not because of an urgency to pray but because of an urgency with my bladder. I know…I know, too much information!

Recently, however, like casseroles at a church potluck, God seems to be heaping more concerns on plate. And interestingly enough, it isn’t because I’m a pastor, but rather because of the people I’m encountering during this time of my life journey. Let me give you some taste of my “prayer portions!”

-While sitting in Starbucks one morning and writing one of my blog posts one of the Starbucks employees that I’ve gotten to know a little bit, Sarah, was wiping off the counter beside me. She gave me one of those looks that non-verbally said “I want to say something to you!” I asked her how she was, and she told me her mom had passed away a couple of days before and the funeral was to be the next day. We talked about the loss of a parent, the pain and the sorrow, and I told her I would be praying for her and her family. Having lost my mom three years ago I know the absence such a death brings to one’s life.

-This week I was talking to my good friend Dave, who now lives in the San Antonio area. He told me that his three sons will all be deployed next month. Having been a career military person, he is proud of his sons’ service for their country, but also acutely aware of the heightened risk that deployments bring and raised anxiety levels of parents, spouses, and children back home. I told him that I’d be praying for them.

-Another person who lives elsewhere had an important court date that he was very anxious about. As the hearing came this week I prayed for him.

-Last night I was officiating a women’s basketball game at Colorado College. One of my partners, Tony Exum, was recently elected to the Colorado House of Representatives. As we were talking before the game he told me about his experience of receiving a word from the Lord back in 1993 about running for political office, and how his decision to run for office in the recent campaign was confirmed by three people he had asked to pray for him. At the end of the night as we were walking out of the gymnasium I told him that I would be praying for him as he was preparing to begin his term of service.

-At our Monday night meetings for area basketball officials one of our older officials (Older than me, okay!) has asked me to join him in prayer at the end of our meetings. Our association of officials has had a trying year and so we join together for a few moments of prayer, asking for protection and wisdom for the close to two hundred men and women who blow their whistles at high school games.

-Two months ago I conducted the funeral service for my friend, Greg Davis. At 41 years of age, he left behind a wife and nine year old daughter, plus his parents and brothers. I’m still grieving his passing, but find myself praying frequently for his family.

Sometimes God places people in our lives for a moment to provide prayer support for a season. Sometimes our relationships are long journeys where the support is like a slow movement in a casual ongoing conversation. At other times it’s a short spurt of conversational prayer, like going to 7-11 for a Slurpee…for a moment and then onward. It seems, however, that God is placing people in my path- heaping those relational portions on my plate- to drive me to prayer. They are the relational roadmap of spiritual support.

Prayer may never be my strength, but it is my summons.