January 9, 2024
“…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, NKJV).
I caught myself misusing my prayer life today. A friend whose mother is very ill sent a text and asked for prayers. I immediately replied by text, “Praying for you now,” and I lifted up a quick one. A bit later, I realized I had thrown that prayer up quickly to encourage my friend but had not in deep sincerity gone to the throne of grace and sincerely asked God to deliver his mother from her struggle. I then took the time to do so.
Shakespeare speaks this insightful statement through Claudius in his play, Hamlet:
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”
Ever been there?
When I’m honest, I sometimes pray for others superficially. I sometimes pray because it’s my habit to do so. I sometimes pray because I’m asked to do so. Sometimes I pray to make a patient or friend feel better. Sometimes I pray so that the one for whom I pray might know I really care. Sometimes my prayers are a bit utilitarian, flipping a switch to make my need come true.
When my children were growing up, I could tell when they were truly trying to connect with me or just checking me off their list. It still bugs me when I try to call them and receive a text response. The relational communication I long for is missing. So, I sigh and move on, waiting for a better opportunity to spend time with those I love.
I wonder if God just sighs and moves on when I text shallow prayers to Him. Perhaps He’s a different kind of Father than I, taking my shallowness in stride and honoring the effort even with flawed intent, leaving me as the only one who’s cheated by my shallow prayers, missing the opportunity to step into His arms, denying myself the chance to listen as He responds.
God probably prefers more than a text in my prayers. He probably wants me kneeling or resting in His arms, bowing before His throne, placing my hand in His and opening my heart to Him through my words.
A bit later today, God gave me a chance to learn from my earlier superficiality. I was able to hold hands with a patient and sincerely lift her up to God for healing, for wisdom and for a chance to glorify our King through her struggle. Still learning to pray like Jesus.
Let me honor you as Father and King when I come before your presence.