Don't Stand on Ceremony


Prayer is not about the right place, the right time or the right way. Jesus said what matters is the right heart.

I, the LORD, invite you to come and talk it over.  (Isaiah 1:18, CEV)

Young children have little sense of the “right” or “appropriate” moments to do certain things. If they want you, they rush into your presence no matter how inconvenient it is; if they blurt out their questions, they do it no matter what “important” visitor is there; if they “tell things as they really are,” they do it even if the whole world that is listening. Why? Because you are their parent, and that’s what parents are for. Young children don’t stand on ceremony; they simply come in. And that, said Jesus, is exactly how we can be with God.

Jesus stressed that prayer is not about “getting it right” – getting the right words or form or time or placebut simply about a spontaneous relationship with our Father God. Many people get in such a muddle when it comes to praying. “Where should I do it? What should I say? Should I stand or sit or kneel? What direction should I face? When should I do it?” To all of these questions, Jesus said: it simply doesn’t matter! It’s not about where or when or how you pray; what matters is the heart.

The priority of the heart comes out clearly in Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, for whom the externals of prayer and worship seemed so important. He told her, “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem ... But the time is coming and is already here when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21, 23-24, NLT). It’s the inside, not the outside, that matters.

Prayer is not about doing it in the right place or at the right time or in the right way. As long as we are sincere, God will hear us. So don’t feel you have to stand on ceremony today. Go on, walk right in, and talk to your Father!

“That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him … ” (John 4: 23, The Message)

Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont


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