Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prayer, Over-stirred.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday meal is making the gravy and white sauce. A white sauce is a fantastic combination of butter, flour and heavy cream. What's not to love about that? Simple and yet powerful in it's goodness. Most cooks would agree, however, that many sauces over-stirred become ruined. Somehow I think that's what we have done with prayer. . .we have over-stirred it.


Prayer is the single-most complex and yet simple thing in the Christian life. It is simple on our part. But on the part of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, there is a mystery -- a complexity -- that I doubt we will understand even in Heaven. We seem to make prayer so cumbersome and difficult, we have stirred it until it has clabbered. We have prayer lists and prayer chains, prayer hours and prayer partners, prayer books and prayer conferences. Yet if you would ask Christians what is the one thing most lacking in their walk with the Lord, I would warrant most would say, "Prayer." Perhaps it is precisely because we have made the very simple, very complex.

The Father has set forth a pattern of simple things for us so that the simplest of us could easily accept Christ and follow Him. Prayer is no different. Prayer must be simple as well so that even a child, or one child-like, can pray.

The Lord began our world by simply speaking the whole of creation into being. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11:3) 

Then He made salvation simple for us. The Lord could have made it so that man had to strive and work all his life to obtain salvation. But the Lord did not do so. He made salvation a simple matter of faith in the work accomplished by His Son on the cross of Calvary. No works, no striving, "nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling". The very essence of simplicity.

It is unlikely that a God who would create the universe by a word and would have the matter of salvation be as simple as faith in His Son would also have conversation with Himself be complex and convulted. Prayer is just as simple so that even a child can pray, and is there anything sweeter than hearing a young child pray?


There are those who seem to believe that there is something almost magical about prayer in and of itself. This is not true. Prayer is simply our conversing with the Lord. Anyone can pray at anytime anywhere about anything. When we tend to believe prayer is magical, and we don't see the magic, we become discouraged and stop praying. When we tend to make prayer too complicated, then we get discouraged and we stop praying.


There are many websites and television programs which exist for the purpose of giving people things to pray for and in turn being able to list our needs for prayer as well. Some of these even have the audacity to ask for "donations". Putting a price tag on prayer --even in the disguise of a "donation" should send red flags to any Christian.  

The Lord has placed in our lives those for whom He would have us to pray, we need only open our eyes and look around. As for those to pray for us, we must simply trust Him to lay us on someone else's heart. Our focus in prayer has to be the one we are praying for, not who will pray for us. We can trust the Lord to take care of us!

The Lord has put us in our sphere of the world exactly where He knows we should be, surrounded by the people He knows we should be surrounded by. He has put those people in our lives for us to pray for. Not only the people we know, but those we do not know. . .maybe the person we pass in traffic, the person standing in line in front of us or someone we see walking down the street. It is no accident they have been placed in our line of vision, God has a purpose for introducing them into our lives.


We may think that we need to have a list of the person's needs to take to the Lord before we can effectively pray for them, but this is not the case. The Lord knows that person infinitely and intimately. He knows their needs. We only need to bring that person up to the Lord and ask that He work in their lives where He sees need, we do not have to know the needs ourselves. 

There are three great needs of all people: that the Lord Jesus be glorified in them; that the God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus be fulfilled in them and that will of God be accomplished in them. These three things can be prayed for all people.How easy it is to simply lift a person's name up to the Lord and rest in the fact that He is willing and able to do the rest.


  ". . .but the prayer of the upright is His delight." (Proverbs 15:8)

 Our prayers are a delight to the Lord. He loves to hear our voices lifted up to Him. It gives Him joy and it creates joy in our hearts as well. Not only that, but it creates a bond of community toward the persons for whom we are praying. It is difficult to have a hardness of heart against a person if you are truly praying for them.

Prayer is as simple as seeing, as simple as remembering. When we see someone, we pray for them. When we remember someone, we pray for them, as Paul did.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." (Philippians 1:3)

We can depend upon our Lord to put those people in our path and in our memory whom He would like us to lift up in prayer. So it's up to us to stop stirring and start serving.

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