“As I’ve said many times,” Stan mentioned one morning, “I love to hear about how other people originally came to faith and how their faith walk has grown.”
“Yeah,” I replied, “we talk about that a lot. The power of personal testimony and how it can help others.”
“That’s it,” Stan said, “and a little bit different spin on that is when I reflect on different things about my own personal faith journey that have impacted me and my relationship with God.”
Continuing, he added, “I was doing some of that reflecting last night and think it might be helpful to you.”
“What were you reflecting on?” I asked.
“When I first became a Christian and was in a Bible study class,” Stan responded, “the class leader said something that in retrospect was clearly well-intended, but it turned out to be off-base and limiting.”
“Yes and no,” Stan replied. “I don’t want to make too big a deal about it, but there’s a lesson in what the leader did and did not do that is really a warning about the danger of doing anything that has the result of limiting God.”
“Limiting God? How so?”
“One night in our class, the leader talked about his personal prayer life and what he did every day, indicating that it was the way I should approach God.”
“Was there something wrong with that?” I asked.
“It didn’t seem wrong at the time. And, again, I know he meant well, but what he said, in essence, was that I was to get on my knees every morning for fifteen minutes and pray. And that I was to have a set list of things I was to pray about.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” I responded.
“Yes, it was a plan,” Stan replied, “but for me it was a very limiting plan that left little or no room for a real growing relationship with God.”
“How so?” I asked.
“I would get on my knees each morning with my list. I would keep my eye on the clock to make sure I was there for fifteen minutes, and then I would get up, put God back on the shelf until the next morning, and proceed with my day.”
“Oh,” I responded, I see what you mean.”
“Yeah,” Stan said, “as I matured in my relationship with God, it became clear that He doesn’t want to be put on the shelf and only taken down and communicated with on my schedule. As well, I don’t think He really wants me to come before Him with my agenda of the things I’m going to pray about.”
“Like coming to a meeting and sticking to your written agenda?” I commented. “Is that what you mean?
“Exactly,” Stan said. “While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a list of prayer items, I also think that God wants me to be open to listening to what He has to say. Too often I run off at the mouth and don’t give God an opportunity to say what He has to say. And that’s to my great loss!”
“As well,” he continued, “I think God wants a relationship with me that involves ongoing communication throughout every day, not just a time in the morning when I set aside a few minutes to be with Him.”
“A relationship with ongoing communication,” I said. “That sounds kind of like that would involve a conversation with God, not just talking to Him.”
“Bingo and amen, my friend!” Stan replied. “A conversation.”
Bible verses to consider:
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, . . . Ephesians 6:18.
Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10.
Now He (Jesus) was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart. Luke 18:1.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want to have a personal and ever-deepening relationship with me through your Son and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thank you that you want to and do lead me in that relationship. Please help me to follow your lead. I confess that too often I do not choose to spend time with you listening to what you have to share with me as you take me into the relationship you intend. Please forgive that foolish approach to knowing you and Jesus. Please help me in following your lead into the relationship you have and want for me. Help me to be quiet and to listen. Thank you I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you agree that God wants to communicate with us, and that prayer is to be communication between you and God, with a time to speak and a time to listen? Why or why not? Do you think that God knows your prayers before you utter a word? If so, what is the point of praying? How about to find out what’s on God’s heart? If that is a valid purpose of prayer, how are you doing with that? If you sense changes may be appropriate in how you pray, how are those changes going to occur?