Friday, April 24, 2009
Prayerfully Minded Fridays: Enough Already!
Weird Al Yankovic is a guy that really makes me laugh with his parodies of popular songs. The man became famous with parodies of Michael Jackson’s music. However, there is a song that Al does that annoys me almost to death. George Harrison did a song called Got My Mind Set On You and Al parodies it with This Song Is Six Words Long. He sings for almost four minutes about this. It is monotonous and actually gets on your nerves if you listen to it long enough.
As a baby Christian, I was very nervous about praying publicly and it often got annoying when one of the old timers of the church would seemingly pray forever about what seemed to be the same song over and over again. A lot of people don’t talk about how annoying a prayer can get, but they are more than ready to tell you if the pastor went over five minutes on his sermon. Why? Because prayers are to God and most are afraid that God will send lightning bolts down if you even approach the subject.
We might say it to ourselves when people go on and on. If you live in the Central time zone, churches tend to let out close to noon and the early NFL games start at noon during football season. There are plenty of men saying if not praying, “C’mon God, let him get this prayer over with, we’ve got the game to catch!” And heaven forbid, someone prays at a Baptist meal social. There is all that food waiting. Get on with it! Please!!
There is time for fervent long suffering prayer. There is also time for communal solitary time with God. However, not every prayer has to be 20 minutes long with fourteen variations of Jesus’ or God’s taken into reference. At that point, we already understand how much you love God, don’t get more windy than Hurricane Katrina.
Jesus had a thought on prayer that relates to what I’ve covered. Before giving us the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 (I’ll cover this in a week or two), Jesus tells us what a prayer should be. Starting in verse five, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
I used to have a thought, well why should I pray at all if he knows what I need already? I think my answer has come more as a dad. Sometimes I know what my two year old son James wants, because I spend a lot of time with him. But I want him to use words, to grow his vocabulary and so that he knows how to ask others when I cannot or am not present to meet the need. I think most would get that “Dink” means his juice, but I say “juice” back to him and have him repeat it, so that he learns the word and knows that this is the word to use with others. God wants fellowship with us. It is a great desire. But God also wants us to be able to relate with each other.
The reference to God as a father is also important. If my son wants juice, as his daddy, do I want to give him something he doesn’t need, like a blanket on a 90 degree day. No, I want to be a good dad and give him a drink to quench his thirst. God wants to fellowship with us to quench our thirst for relationship with him.
Here are some things I am praying for this week:
I am praying for friendships. My pastor gave a message this week on developing a close community and he hit on a topic that I have been all too familiar with in the past several years. I have many, many acquaintances, but few close, accountability comfortable friendships. I’m not alone. I pray for men and women to be able to work on a new or developing friendship and that it would blossom to be a friendship that you need.
I’m praying for study groups. Our church has several Growing In God groups, GIG for short, and I started a large part of my spiritual walk in a small group setting with a few people that cared and helped develop my early Christian years. I pray that those in these groups find that closeness of relationship and those that may be seeking friendships to maybe consider joining in the future or forming a group of friends for growth.
I’m praying for Agapefest. If you haven’t read some of my other articles, Agapefest is a music festival that brings many Christian bands and speakers together for a weekend to spread the word of God to their audience. Music is a very important gift in the spiritual process and I pray that God brings the right people to the event so that they are touched and that the message of God is spread.
Finally, I am praying for encouragers to grow in their churches and that they reach out to their church staffs. As an internet pastor, I am starting to receive letters of people in need, whether spiritual or otherwise. It is awesome for me to open an email occasionally and hear a word that says how happy they are that I’m doing what I’m doing for God. I know my reward is in heaven, but it is ever so great to get these messages because they often come when I am feeling tired or down about something going on that you may never know about. The leaders of churches get multiple emails, phone calls and visits from people that need. So encouragers, I beseech you to send a word of encouragement to your leaders today. Be it an email, a call, something chocolate (pastors love that stuff), or whatever your encouragement gifting is. Lift ‘em up. And if your best gift is prayer, by all means shower them in prayer. They may not know it was you, but I guarantee they feel a fervent prayer of fresh air in their spirits.
I love you guys!