The prayer of the upright is His delight. – Proverbs 15:8
What if your loved ones only communicated with you in prescribed, rote, memorized fashion? What if they never deviated from certain written phrases? No matter how eloquent the phrases, wouldn’t you be disappointed? If my children only addressed me when they wanted something and did it in a very formal, ritualized fashion (in old English) it would drive me crazy! “Our Father, who art in the living room, how handsome thou art today,” they might say. “Thy fatherhood be established, thy will be done upstairs as well as downstairs. Give us this day our weekly allowance, and forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven our siblings. And don’t make our chores too difficult, but deliver us from hard labor. For thine is the authority, the wisdom and the ability to do these things. Thank you.” After a couple of times, I might refuse to answer simply out of pique!
Prayer is more than a rehearsal of a series of words - whether the words come from the Bible or a famous liturgy. If you utter the words more from the throat than from the heart or mind, don’t be surprised when you don’t seem to get the deep abiding centeredness you seek.
Genuine prayer is our conversation with God. It expresses our deepest feelings, our greatest desires and our worst nightmares to Someone who truly is concerned. To simply recite preset words at God rather than speaking to God implies that He is without a will. It implies that He is a machine that will respond to a set of stimuli in a given way every time. It denies His personhood. It demeans God.
By adoration, thanksgiving, confession of sin and petitions for mercies and gifts we ascend to the very throne room of God and come to know Him. The very act of searching deep within ourselves for what to say changes us. Prayer is like a being on a boat and pulling on the line that is tied to shore. You get closer, yes – but it is because YOU are moving. Prayer is intense. It is hard work. It reveals the depths of our sin, it shows us the limits of our capabilities, and renders us down to the essentials before an Almighty God.
However, like any good conversation, it is also a delight. Once in a while, you meet someone who is a great conversationalist. In other words they are interested in you! They ask good questions; they are interested in your history; they like to hear of your victories; they appreciate the life wisdom you can share. They ask your advice…then actually ACT on it! God is looking for a good conversation. He delights in it. Why not simply try talking to Him instead of reciting to Him? The last time we spoke He said He would really appreciate it.
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