Doing things right the first time is always so much easier, isn’t it? Prayer is no different!
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
It started early one Saturday when Mike needed to repair a toilet cistern. Of course, the easiest way would have been to hire a plumber; but plumbers don’t come cheap! So Mike went and bought the required part and started the job. As the morning unfolded, various fittings proved not to fit, one new part led to the need for another, and one joint obstinately refused to seal (witness the wet bathroom floor). Nine hours later (!) Mike swallowed his pride and phoned one of his church members (who was rather better at D-I-Y!) who promptly rushed to the rescue. Twenty minutes later, the job was done!
Doing things right is always so much easier, isn’t it? And prayer is no different. By that we don’t mean that prayer must be done in a particular way. Prayer is about a relationship with God, and so it has many different expressions and no one way is ‘right’. Nevertheless, there are certain ‘tools’ that help to get the job done.
The first tool is knowing that the heart is more important than the words. It doesn’t matter if we can’t get the right words out; as long as our heart is in it, God loves our prayer! Words, as the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector reminds us (Luke 18:9-14), are nowhere near as important as the heart. The second tool is knowing that the content is more important than the format. God really isn’t interested in the beauty or structure of the language, but in the content of what we say. He wants us to talk to him in our own words and in our own way, no matter how simple that might be. The third tool is knowing that growing is more important than getting. So often, we come to God because we want to ‘get’ something; but God is far more interested in our spiritual growth than in simply giving us all we ask for.
Thankfully, prayer isn’t a job where we need an expert to do it for us. God has put the necessary tools into all our hands. If we use them, then we are well on the way to ‘getting the job done’. Better get started then…
Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. (1 Peter 4:7)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont