Pastor’s Desk November 26th

Scripture Passage:  “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”   Psalms 55:17
 
Dear Friends,
 
     One of my favorite stories about prayer is the one where a little boy was being taken out for misbehavior in church.  As his parent was carrying him out the little boy exclaimed with a sense of urgency, “Pray, people, pray.”  Often the sincerity of our prayers is directly proportioned to the urgency of our need.  When things are going well we pray with a heart of thanksgiving.  As time elapses we become complacent and forget how much we need God.  As our need for God becomes more evident and our circumstances outweigh our ability, we break and willingly humble ourselves before God.  Our model prayers of formation become fervent prayers of desperation and we cry out to God as a child would cry out to their father for help.  This is the type of effective prayer James talks about in James 5:16.  As our time of revival meetings conclude it is my heartfelt desire that prayer has become a focal point and emphasis to the character of our church.  Not only does it need to be prevalent in the life of the church, it needs to be the priority of our individual lives.  If the only time we pray is at church, we miss the opportunity for intimate fellowship with the Lord in our homes.  If we only pray at home, we miss the opportunity for the koinonia fellowship between God, ourselves, and our church family.  Simply put, prayer is talking to God as one would talk to a friend. 
     David’s isolation with the sheep turned to loneliness as he fled from King Saul.  Have you ever been in a room full of people but felt utterly alone?  David had a group of men that traveled with him but I am sure there were times he felt as if he had no one to talk to.  During those times of solitude David spoke audibly to God on a continuing and regular basis.  He also set time aside three times a day to be alone with God.  We find this same type of prayer life in Daniel as he suffered in Babylonian captivity.  (Daniel 6:10)  These individuals were men who had an excellent spirit about them and were men after God’s own heart because they were men of prayer.  How can you be a friend of God and never talk to him?  Can it be said of us as it was said of Daniel that if you are going to find fault with us it will be concerning our God?  They might say we talk too much, play games too much or sleep too much.  They might say we cut up and carry on with foolishness too much.  But would they say we pray too much?
 
     The Pharisees loved to pray in public.  They would make sure they were in populated areas when prayer times came so they could be seen and heard.  They could be heard rambling on for hours with eloquent rhetoric designed to impress rather than inspire.  Jesus called it “vain repetitions and much speaking,” and warned us not to be like them.  (Matthew 6:7) He also gave us an example of what sincere prayer looks and sounds like.  Two men went up into the temple to pray.  One was a religious Pharisee the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed within himself.  His purpose was to impress others and exalt himself.  His prayer went something like this.  “God, thank you that you did not make me like other men.  You made me special.  I live a righteous life.  I do not steal or commit adultery and give away vast amounts of money for the upkeep of the temple.  Thank God I am not a sinner like this publican.”  The publican on the other hand did not know anyone else was in the building.  His only purpose was to acquire the attention of Heaven and beg for God’s mercy.  He recognized his sinfulness and acknowledged God’s holiness.  He humbled himself and God exalted him.  According to Jesus he went back to his house justified while the Pharisee went home just like he came – full of himself and empty of God.  (Luke 18:9-14)  Which one are you?
 
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny