Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
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.
Some folks 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.
There are 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.
But Samuel’s 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.
The people 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 problems.
Stubbornly 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.
Instead of 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 of idolatry.
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.”
Ignored is 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.
In his 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 Bible.
While we 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. + + +