James 4-5, Psalm 32
When I do hospital rounds on some of my Orthodox Jewish patients, at certain times of the day, they will put their finger up for me to wait a minute as they finish their prayers. Their lips move at the speed of light reciting the words in their prayer book, then they finish and allow me to examine them. This prayer is spoken way too fast and no time is allowed to actually hear from God. In the movie, "Son of God", though much in the movie was inspiring, the only prayer ever said, and done so repeatedly, was the Lord's Prayer or the "Our Father". This was often done the same way, in rote repetition with no sense of prayer being a dialogue, but instead a monologue. Think how any other relationship would do if we simply spoke at someone and never waited or cared about the response, for example our spouses or children. How would that relationship fare. Corrie Ten Boom asks, "Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" Martin Luther said, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." Mother Teresa said, "Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts." Charles Spurgeon said, "True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that- it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth."
In James 4:2-3, we read, "...Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue and it is with the God of the universe, not a genie. Do we pray according to His will or our own? Jon Courson says, "Prayer is not giving orders. It's reporting to duty. And once a person finally understands that prayer is not man saying, "Bless the business; bring in the money; solve the problem, " and God saying, "Aye, Aye, Captain, "his prayer life will be revolutionized. Prayer is saying, "Father what do You want to do in my life? I want You to do what You see is best for me because I get mixed up so easily." James said in 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." If we don't sense God when we pray, we must ask ourselves if we are honestly seeking Him or giving lip service to Him. When we pray, we must be patient, waiting for God. Consider Daniel in Daniel 10:3, who prayed for three straight weeks waiting to hear from God. We read in James 5:13-14, "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." If we are in an authentic relationship with God, then He wants to share both the good times and the bad times with us, like any other close relationship. We must reject the normal reactions of fighting back and complaining when we are afflicted or suffering, but instead come to God.. We must reject the normal reactions of ignoring or forgetting God when things are going well, but instead bring those good times before God.
Prayer is necessary for the healthy life of the Christian. It is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy relationship with God. When we pray, we can get one of three answers to our prayer: yes, no, or a delay. God's ways are so much higher than our ways. When we pray for the sick, we sometimes don't understand why God doesn't heal everyone. But that's up to God, our role is simply to pray and know that if we are in a true relationship with Him, His response is the correct one. It is easy to get so busy that we only pray in the morning or before going to sleep. But, we need Him 24/7. In my typical day seeing patients in the office, I am usually running late. I would notice how easy it was to go long stretches of time without praying. It may sound odd, but now every time I enter the bathroom, I take a few moments to pray quietly. When I go to my desk and sit, I often will pray before calling patients or going over labs. I don't want to go through life without Him, so when life gets busy, and it does for most of us, we must find ways to be in communication with Him throughout the day.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: