“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Prayer II

I apologize for going so long without a post -- it has been a fairly hectic week.

As I have been thinking more about prayer lately, I have picked up several prayer books. I am astounded by the depth of many of these prayers -- they are incredibly beautiful!

I began to wonder why we hear prayer such as this so rarely anymore. Most of the great prayers that I have been reading were penned long before the technology-driven world of today. And I don't simply mean the Internet, but before TV, and the myriad technological advancements that have infiltrated our lives in the last 60-100 years.

It dawned on me, after examining my own life, that we really don't meditate on the Word of God like our antecendents did. These people did not have the many interruptions/distractions vying for their attention that we do today. These were people who spent HOURS in the Word and in prayer EVERYDAY! They were truly saturated with the Word of God, and it shows in their prayers!

The Psalmist talks of this in that great and magnificent Psalm: Psalm 119 -- Psalm 119:9-24 -- How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments. Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.

There are many more places in Psalm 119 that discuss this, but we can also turn to Psalm 1, and we find this -- Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Is it any wonder, in this day when many pastors prepare their message by downloading a sermon from a repository of on-line sermons, that our prayer lacks depth? When pastors may not open the Bible all week, instead opting for 'tools' on their computer to do their 'research'? When one may not even pray before reading the Word, instead doing a google on their topic, and then 'cutting and pasting' the information into their sermon?

Am I a Luddite who believes that we should not take advantage of the technology available? No, I use some on-line tools, so that is not what I am saying; however, if the bulk of our study is done via a mouse, then yes, I believe that this is wrong.

Nowadays, pastors don't have time to study the Word, or spend time meditating on it (I have heard some say this), but they are consumed with administrative/CEO type work. Brothers, this should not be! Our task, first and foremost, is to study/teach the Word and be in prayer, NOT be the CEO of our church! I have heard great communicators; men who have very 'successful' churches, but when it comes to their prayer life it is either non-existent, or so insipid as to be useless. When pressed for time, most of us will ensure that the business aspect of our church is taken care of, to the neglect of our prayer life.

I once read an interview with a well-known pastor explaining how he developed sermons, and for 16 pages he described his 'technique' -- how he and his 'team' put together sermons by 'white-boarding' ideas, and thinking up grandiose illustrations to wow the congregation, yet not once did he mention actually opening the Bible or praying. It was so blatant that the interviewer actually asked, "where is the place for prayer and Bible study?" The pastor immediately said this -- "Oh, we pray...." And that was about the extent of his response!

Brothers, we need to put away our white boards, our mice, our laptops, and our multimedia, and get on our knees, read the Word, meditate on it, and then PRAY that the Father empower us with His Spirit. When the pastors' prayer life is vibrant, then the congregations will be!

4 comments:

Even So... said...

Ray says pray and the Bible backs him up all the way...

Amen, and we don't have to ask anyone if they are not praying enough, we see it all out in the open, evreythign going on tells us that we are not men of prayer anymore, we are all guilty, and just becasue we are all guilty, that is no excuse...

Ray said...

even-so,

I agree, we see the lack of prayer and meditation upon the Word of God in our tepid worship, our lackluster devotion to God, and in our lives as a whole.

I am not exempt, and hope I have not presented myself in that manner. In our 'modern age' we are pulled many different ways, most of them AWAY from prayer and time in the Word.

Dave said...

I'm just glad I have a pastor who highly esteems the scriptures, is given to prayer and preaches the word uncompromisingly.

Ray said...

Dave,

Thanks -- I am glad that I have friends such as yourself who keep me honest and in line...

Ray