On the Corner
by Robert Docter –
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
Let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving,
And extol him with music and song. (Psalm 95)
Well–what are you thankful for? What goes on when you pray?
When you talk to God, is your prayer life a metaphor for your entire existence? You know–me, me, me,–please do this, do that, do the other thing –bless him and him and her, but not them–gimme, gimme, gimme–help, Help, HELP. Do you ever thank him for anything? Do you ever ask him to forgive you?
Are you talking all the time you pray –does any listening take place at all? Where is your mind while you are praying?
What feelings do you have when you pray–obligation, ritual, habit–or joy, intimacy, praise?
Are you connected?
It seems to me we often relate to God in much the same way we relate to everyone else in our life–with the exception that we are usually somewhat fearful about getting angry at him.
Prayer becomes a wonderful way to assess the quality of relationships with others. If you find yourself focusing only on you in your prayer life–maybe that’s the focus of other aspects of your life–laden with self-centeredness. If you rarely say “thank you” to him, maybe that’s a pattern with others. If you take him for granted by making demands on him to solve all the problems of your existence–problems he has given you responsibility to solve on your own–then you just might be making the same kind of irresponsible demands on those around you.
If you are reluctant to disclose specific areas of your life to him because you believe he somehow is too busy to know all about you, chances are you’re a fairly closed, secretive kind of person with your own private “sin list” locked away from visibility.
If you don’t have a prayer life at all, maybe you don’t have any life at all.
Then, too, you might offer him praise and express thanksgiving for his grace and his love, for his answers to prayer and his guidance, for his protection and mercy. In that case, you’re probably willing to relate to others in much the same way–open, caring, thankful, altruistic.
I have always been a little confused about the scriptural injunction to “pray without ceasing.”What does that mean? How is it possible? I’ve got work to do–lectures to give, people to help, articles to write, programs to evaluate. How am I ever going to “pray without ceasing?” Then Luisa, a lovely little lady in my Sunday school class, told all of us that she “prays all the time.” I immediately asked: “How can that be? How do you manage?”
Her life is totally immersed in a continual relationship with God. She takes him everywhere she goes. She talks to him in her heart. She relates to him with her mind. And she engages in formal prayer in a disciplined and orderly manner. Her prayer lists are written down. She schedules the time in her date book –along with scriptural passages to read on certain days. Her prayers are continuous because God is part of her life on a continuous basis. The other day I saw my name on her prayer list and I felt wrapped in the arms of her love–and God’s.
Another prayer warrior friend of mine told me he makes lists of people who seek the intercession of his personal prayer. “That’s the easy part,” he said. “The hard part is finding out the results–after praying for the sick, or for help with someone’s problem, or the salvation of a loved one it’s good to hear that prayer actually changes things–that God is a great and awesome God yet still willing to care for his children.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God, and we are the
people of his pasture,
the flock under is care.