by Kevin Pauley
Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…You have not lied to men but to God. And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last. Acts 5:3-5a
There’s an old Jewish midrash out of Tanna d’Bei Eliyahu about Abraham and his father, Terah. It says that Abraham’s father, Terah, was an idol worshipper. In fact, he owned a shop where people could buy idols of whatever god they chose to worship. One day, Terah had to go somewhere and he left Abraham in charge. Abraham had doubted the power of these idols for a while, so he decided to smash them all while his father was gone. He proceeded to destroy the idols with an ax except for one, the largest, in whose hands he placed the ax.
Terah returned to find his stock demolished and naturally questioned Abraham as to what had happened. Abraham told him that the large idol had become angry at the lesser ones and had destroyed them all with an ax. Terah was absolutely livid and screamed, “Stop lying to me! You know that these idols can’t walk or talk or move!”
So, Abraham responded, “If they can’t protect themselves, then why do you pray to them to protect you?”
Good question! Tell me something. To whom are you praying to today? Are you truly praying to God? Or, are you perhaps praying to yourself? Many times we discover, that when we should be praying to God, we are praying to ourselves instead. You know what I’m talking about. Those long rambling prayers that really sound like you’re trying to figure things out; trying to find a way out; trying to connive an escape route; trying to comfort yourself by developing excuses for your behavior. Making false promises to “never do it again” when in your heart of hearts you already know you want to.
Ananias and Saphira tried that one time. They wanted to look and act like they were doing something really holy. They were going through the motions, being religious, but they weren’t doing it for God. They were worshiping the people around them. They wanted to look good to the others in their church. So many times we catch ourselves praying to ourselves or to other humans. Yet, we humans are powerless to protect ourselves much less each other. What does it matter what other humans think of you? Can they add another day to your life? Why struggle – trying to answer your own questions?
The fact that you’re asking questions shows you don’t have the answers. Why not give it up? Why not dedicate yourself anew to the real Lord of the universe? The Lord is the One who needs no one to defend Him; He’s the One who can actually make a difference in your life. But you must be sure that you’re actually praying to Him.
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Kevin Pauley is a pastor and writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Lynn, their five children and two dogs. His internet address is Berea.
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