Monday Morning Devotion-September 16, 2019
What Can I Say, God?
*Reprised from January 19, 2015
There is one thing we can be sure of when we come to God in prayer. If we ask anything in keeping with what he wants, he hears us. If we know that God hears what we ask for, we know that we have it. 1 John 5:14-15
"The truth is we have a problem with God."
That's what Rob Bell says in the opening chapter of his book, "What we Talk About When We talk About God." Further he contends that two people discussing God may be talking about "two different realities while using that exact same word."
I know that I pray every day. And because you are reading this I assume that you do too. Since we believe in one true God, albeit a God in three persons, each of us is praying to the same God. What Bell is saying is that our perception of the God we are praying to may differ, but it is the same God.
Even though our perceptions of Him may differ the important thing is His perception of us doesn't. As our Creator He loves us all equally and I have to think that it pleases Him when we bring our problems to Him and certainly when we are thoughtful enough to thank Him for what He has done, is doing and will do in the future.
Sometimes it may seem like we are offering up the same prayer every day and we may stop to wonder, "Is God getting bored with my prayers?" Are you getting bored with them? That may be a better question. Is it just a matter of rephrasing the same requests and livening them up?
Certainly, we want every prayer to be heard by God. OK strike that one off the list of questions because God hears every prayer. Additionally, as Mark Batterson says, our prayers are eternal. They never die. Once they are offered up they can be recalled and rephrased, re-asked, re-presented whatever, but, they are always there as originally prayed as well.
I'll admit that my prayers may sometimes seem like a broken record. Stuck in the same spot, going round-and-round but saying basically the same thing. Unfortunately, I have to admit that on occasion my prayer may seem to treat God as the Omnipotent Vending Machine°asking for him to dispense blessing after blessing, without putting any money into the machine to get the product to fall down on me.
I guess a way to correct that is to take the "ourselves" out of being the central focus of our own personal prayers. Intercessory prayer is a powerful tool. I have experienced that first hand in a prayer group at church. We did pray for ourselves in that group and I fully believe God honors that, but the beautiful thing was the depth of our prayers for others. At Good Samaritan UMC we say that we are growing God's Kingdom, one prayer at a time. Each Sunday we share "Prayers of the People" in our worship service.
We have seen some remarkable, even truly astounding answers to these prayers at our church. Many of them have been in the area of healing. God has honored some of these prayers in ways that, when we look back, could only have been his healing power that accomplished the positive results. We try to be aware of this and give Him thanks and just let Him know that we know how the results came about. They were His doing as he caused the right people, the right situations and/or the right procedures to come forth.
We can just walk or drive through the church campus to see how God has answered our prayers and blessed us. When we started Good Samaritan in 2006 we had a plan to build three buildings do God's work. We wanted to be the Church of God's Dreams. We wanted everything about this location to say this is hallowed ground.
We had seen it as a jungle, lots of trees, heavy underbrush, bamboo°a virtual wilderness in the midst of civilization. But we kept on praying. We saw the land being cleared and kept on praying. We saw the first church building built and kept on praying. We saw the recession deplete the funds for a second building and we kept on praying. Now we meet each Sunday in a beautiful sanctuary in a building that also houses the church offices. And yes, we will keep on praying.
There have been times when we may have wondered, since our prayers each week had a sameness about them, if they were being effective. Was God getting bored with the same old, same old when it came to our prayers?
Sure, we knew the Biblical story of the persistent widow who eventually wore down the judge until she got the desired ruling. But, this was God we were talking about and to. The judge only had authority in his territory. All the territory is God's. So, we could easily have thought, just as I have in my personal prayers at times. "What can I say, God? What else can I do to move my earnest plea up your priority list?"
Frankly the answer often is°nothing! The best thing to do may be as the Psalmist is told "Be still and know that I am God." Just be still and quiet and be in God's presence. Joining Him with no agenda, no questions or pleas or even praises. Just to be with Him following the advice to "let Go and let God."
That is often hard to do. The world's agenda interferes. It is hard to fully block out all the static, the messages pertinent to daily living that flow through our mind.
Father William Meninger, a Centering Prayer Guru, said there is nothing wrong with that. God will honor your intention. If you are persistent and keep on doing this God will honor the effort and you will find changes, often subtle ones, coming about in your life.
The fact is that you can go to God in prayer and not say anything. You don't even have to use words. Just ask for the Holy Spirit's assistance and the Spirit will pray for you. Or you can continue to pray your same heartfelt prayers°asking for God's help, praising Him, praying for others.
I'm fond of the saying "it's all good" when I stop to think about life's potpourri of events, some pleasing and some not so pleasing. And the reason is "God is good all the time."
"What can I say, God?" Say what is on your heart even if it has been prayed for ad infinitum. The powerful loving God will honor every prayer.
Monday Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for hearing every prayer no matter how similar each one may be to another we have prayed. Amen!