Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Keeping the Line Open

The easiest way to mess up a simple thing is to complicate it. Prayer was originally meant to be a simple thing. It is just talking to God. But many things have been added to complicate it. It is claimed that there are certain previously-written prayers that must be used. It is also claimed that you must not use any prayer that is not spontaneous. It is claimed that the best way to communicate with God is to speak in tongues. It is also claimed that to genuinely communicate with God, you must not speak in tongues. We must pray the Lord's prayer. We must not pray the Lord's prayer. And none of these rules is found in Scripture.

Scripture does clearly say that prayer should not be done to impress other people (Matthew 6:5-8; Mark 12:40; Galatians 1:10). I am not saying that all the problems come from this, but I think many of them do. For we get caught up in trying to impress those around us, and we use certain methods to do so. Now I am convinced there is a legitimate place for different approaches to prayer. The real issue is the heart. But what we need to do is watch our heart, that we are simply talking to God. And we need to be careful of judging others for how they pray (James 4:11,12; Romans 14:10; Romans 2:1). I am not saying that there could never be anything done which needs to be corrected. But we should be very careful of our grounds before we do so, and should do so with gentleness (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 2 Thessalonians 3:15).

Now God gives us serious encouragement to pray (Matthew 7:7-11; Philippians 4:6,7; 1 John 5:14,15). But we have a natural tendency not to. We want to believe we can handle things ourselves and do not need God's help. But one thing that stands in the way for many is the belief that it has to done following a certain pattern. I am not opposed to a pattern if it helps someone to pray. The problem is when it becomes a barrier because people believe they have to do things in a certain way or God will not hear. I am in favor of aids to pray; I am opposed to hoops you need to jump through to get to God. The Lord's prayer is a simple prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), asking for basic needs. It gives us a picture of what prayer looks like and the things that should go into it. We can also get a picture of what prayer is like from the psalms. The picture I get is of an ordinary person speaking to their Father. Anything that facilitates that is good. Anything that hinders it is best avoided.

No comments:

Post a Comment