Altar Call –
May 30, 2010
Prayer is much more than
talking to God
Prayer is a wonderful privilege. God invites
us to pray. He wants us to know him. He wants to be known as the caring Father
that Jesus pictured him to be. He desires intimacy with his children.
But prayer is
much more than talking to God. Prayer at
its best is a conversation between two persons who love one another. God loves
us. He wants us to love him. To love God is to listen to God and then do our
best to obey him. The primary way God speaks to us is through the Holy
Scriptures. We read the Bible in order to know how God wants us to live.
develop a bad habit. They never learn to
listen to God. Their prayers amount to little more than telling God what to do.
To do that is to assume you are smarter than God.
stories in the Bible about these folks. One such story is found in First
Samuel. Samuel was a circuit judge who provided wise counsel for the Israelites
nearly all his life. The people benefited from his long, skillful leadership.
decision to appoint his sons as judges was a big mistake. His sons refused to
follow the spiritual example of their father. They used their authority for
personal gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice.
became restless, demanding that Samuel appoint them a king. They were envious
of other nations that had kings and felt that having a king would solve all their
the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warnings against demanding a king.
Their attitude was much like our own sometimes. We want what we want, and we
want it now! Never mind what God wants; we know better than God what we need.
God let the
Israelites have their way, instructing Samuel to give them a king, but not
without warning them of the severe consequences they would face from the
tyranny of a king. Samuel’s warnings fell on deaf ears. A new era began and Samuel
became known as the last judge of Israel.
The lesson in
this story is significant: We can become too smart for our own britches. We can
presume to think that we know better than God what we need. Then our arrogance becomes like wax in our ears,
preventing us from hearing or heeding God’s warnings.
worshiping God we worship our own minds. What we think becomes more important
that what God says. To worship our own way of thinking becomes the worst sort
An example of such idolatry is the muddled
thinking of some people regarding sexuality. Adultery becomes permissible
because “my spouse no longer makes me happy,” or “I no longer love my spouse.” Watching
pornography is acceptable because “I am not harming anyone and no one will know
because I do it secretly.” Having multiple sex partners is “my personal
business.” And the biggest absurdity of
all: “If it feels good then I can do it because it is my life and nobody has
the right to tell me what to do.”
what God thinks about all this. And the Bible, for these smart people, is an
ancient book with obsolete “commandments.” To think like this, as millions do, is to
presume to be smarter than God. Clearly it is to worship the conclusions of
one’s own mind rather than to acknowledge the wisdom of God revealed in the Bible.
merciful patience God sometimes allows us to have what we want or to have our
own way. He has given us the precious freedom to choose how we shall live. Nonetheless,
sober thinking should remind us that what is always best for us is what God
wants for us. And what he wants for us is spelled out clearly in the Holy
wallow in the worship of our own ideas, God waits. He waits while our perverted
ideas destroy families and ruin the lives of our children. He waits for us to
stop such foolish worship and embrace the truths he has given us. He longs for
us to learn, before it is too late, that our needs will never be fully met
until we accept his way of thinking and make it our own.
Trying to tell God what we need, and what we
want him to do, is a bad habit that our broken society needs to give up. If
only we could learn that Father knows best. Then we could pray aright. + + +