Once upon a time, there was a duck community that woke up on Sunday morning to go to church. Once they were ready, the community of ducks walked several miles to FDC (First Duck Church) to worship God. When the song service was over the duck pastor got up to preach. He preached from Psalm 139 about ducks being fearfully and wonderfully made. He told the duck congregation that the greatest thing God had given ducks was their wings. With their wings, ducks could soar in the skies. With their wings, they could observe God’s creation in ways wingless creatures could not. As the duck preacher waxed eloquent about wings, the duck congregation quacked back, “Amen!” “That’s right preacher” and “Hallelujah.” When the service was over the duck congregation told the duck pastor that was one of the best sermons they had ever heard. Then they walked back home.
This story illustrates the way believers often act about prayer. We go to church where we hear preaching and teaching about prayer. We agree with everything that is said and we openly acknowledge the importance of prayer in person’s spiritual life. Despite our high view of prayer, few believers have a consistent and satisfying prayer life.
J. Oswald Sanders, in his book Spiritual Leadership said, “The amount of time we spend in prayer demonstrates how important we feel that prayer is.” He went on to say that the most common reason given for not praying is that we simply don’t have time. Yet there are any number of other things that we manage to do every day besides prayer and the reason that we don’t see it as important as these other things.
At this point you may be thinking, “Great, another guilt trip about not praying enough.” I can honestly say that is not my goal or intention because guilt really won’t help or change your prayer life. If I make you feel guilty, you may feel bad and vow to change but once those feelings of guilt are gone, the change will be gone. I’m sure we’ve all done things because we felt guilty before. If we have, then one thing we know is that we only do those things until the guilt wears off. Once we no longer feel guilty, we no longer do whatever it was we were doing.
Praying to the great God of heaven is one of the greatest and most amazing privileges we have as believers. It is one of the things that separate Christianity from most other religions in the world. I know that most world religions pray in one way or another but there aren’t many where their praying is really communicating with God. Many of these religions have prayers that they memorize and they simply recite them at various times, often commanded, during the day. They really aren’t communicating with their god. It’s more like they are appeasing him so that he doesn’t smite them.
This certainly isn’t the way that prayer is described in Scripture. One of my favorite passages that mention prayer is in the Psalms. “I love the LORD, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2 (NKJV) The Psalmist says that he loves the Lord because the Lord has heard his prayer and since the Lord has heard his prayer, he will call out to God as long as he lives. That is the opposite of prayer motivated by guilt.
Our love for the Lord should motivate us to want to spend time with Him in prayer. His answers to our prayers stir up a greater love for God and a deeper desire to spend time with Him in prayer. It should be fairly natural for us to spend time praying to God. There shouldn’t be anything awkward or uncomfortable about it because we love God and we know that He hears our prayers.
I feel pretty confident that most who are reading this knows the emphasis that Scripture places on prayer and also understands the importance of prayer. For myself I honestly don’t know of anything that deepens or strengthens my relationship with God more than prayer. When I am consistently spending time with God in prayer I am feel closer to God, more in tune with His Spirit’s guidance and much more aware of God’s presence in the ordinary activities of the day. When I am not praying consistently is when I feel very far from God. This is also the time when my doubts seem the greatest and when temptations are the most effective. I would almost guarantee that this was your experience as well.
I plan on my posts this week focusing on prayer. My goal is to encourage those who read this to pray and to give practical advice on how to deepen your prayer life. Today spend some time considering the way prayer is described in Scripture.
“To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.” Psalm 25:1 (NKJV)
“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, LORD, I will seek.’” Psalm 27:8 (NKJV)
“This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.” Psalm 34:6 (NKJV)
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah “Psalm 62:8 (NKJV)
“I cry out to the LORD with my voice; With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.” Psalm 142:1-2 (NKJV)
“And Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1:15 (NKJV)
Based on the way prayer is described in the Bible, would you consider prayer to be something formal where you have to worry about using the right words or an intimate time of talking to God? Don’t be a walking duck, pray.