Newsweek Magazine says 91 percent of women and 85 percent of men pray. (Of course, 100 percent of golfers pray on the putting green.)
Often, our prayers revolve around asking God to bail us out of some mess. We’re like the little girl who prayed, “God, either make Boston the capital of Vermont or lose my test paper.”
Prayer can also be confusing. One little boy was saying his prayers before bed: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If … If … If … If he hollers, let him go, eenie, meenie, miny, mo.”
Usually, we make prayers too formal, especially at church. Why do pastors pray with a “holy tone” and talk using a stained-glass voice? I like to hear new people pray at church because they haven’t learned the ritual. Prayer should be simple. You don’t have to systematize, organize, sanitize, or agonize over your prayers. Prayer is like a child coming to his father to talk.
What if I came home one day and my kids said, “Hail, thou illustrious and elegant psychologist. We welcome thee home from thy sojourn down Academy Boulevard. Wouldst thou grant to thy second daughter Kasey and thy third daughter Breanne some money that we may sojourn to yonder apothecary and procure for ourselves some cosmetics to adorn ourselves, O Gracious Father?” They don’t talk like that. They would say something like, “Hi, Dad. Love you, missed you. Need to get some stuff. Got any money? Thanks, Dad.”
And prayer is not just trying to persuade God to do what you want. An English professor was trying to teach his students the value of a rich vocabulary. He said to them, “If you will take a new word and use it 10 times, it will be yours forever.” A young woman in the class looked dreamily out the window and started saying, “George, George, George, George … .” That’s the way some people pray, looking for the right password to get the “George” of their dreams. Prayer is telling God you want to be a partner in what He wants to do. You won’t find a better partner.
Sometimes God says “no” because you don’t need what you want. Sometimes He says “no” because you have the wrong motive. Sometimes the timing is wrong, and He doesn’t say “no,” but rather, “Slow down.” Other times you just aren’t ready, and He doesn’t say “no” or “slow” but “grow.” Then there are the times when He says “go,” and you can go with full confidence, knowing that it isn’t just a good idea but a God idea.
A man climbed mountains as a hobby. He was climbing one of the highest mountains in the world with two professionals. They climbed up the sheltered side of the mountain to the top. As they reached the peak, the man was so exhilarated he began to jump up and down to see the view. The wind was so powerful it almost blew him off the mountain. The guide quickly grabbed him and brought him down to safety and said, “On your knees, sir, on your knees. You’re safe up here only on your knees.”
What a statement! If you are going to get anywhere in life, especially close to the top, you’re safe only on your knees. Prayer does change things. Most of the time it changes us. That is usually why God wants to spend time with us.
One little girl heard the choir singing “God Is Still on the Throne.” On the way home from church, she told her mom, “I really like that song ‘God Is Still on the Phone.’”
God is still on the phone. Why don’t you give him a call — local, direct, and free of charge?