Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Have A Little Talk With Jesus

How often do you pray?

There is a misconception in the church that the employment of prayer has its proper purpose, time and place.  When asked by others to pray for their urgent needs, we comply.  When we have our own immediate needs, we pray for the Lord to meet them.  Our church bulletins usually include prayer lists of those with specific health or financial problems of which we are asked to pray.  But the immensity of this growing list of prayer requests can be daunting and cause us to merely glance at it, perhaps selecting only a few of them to respond to and overlooking the rest.  And of course, we all bow our heads for the opening and closing prayers our Pastor gives before and after his sermon.

“Well, isn’t that enough?” some of you may ask.  The answer to that question depends entirely upon what kind of relationship you want to have with God.

The idea that prayer must always have a definite purpose is one that should be discarded.  Prayer is perhaps the most important tool we have at our disposal to draw us to a closer intimacy with God.  It is the most essential form of communion we can have with Him, a time when we can approach Him and fellowship with Him on a personal level.  At that point, we are face to face with the Lord and He gives us His complete and unwavering attention.  Like sitting down with an old friend over a cup of coffee and merely enjoying each others company, these moments with God enable us to talk to Him about the simplest or the most complex things.  There is nothing happening in our lives that will bore Him or cause His thoughts to wander away from our conversation.  And He is always ready to respond with correction, instruction, or encouragement.  God’s desire for an intimate relationship with us is far greater than our desire to have one with Him.  After all, He created us for that purpose.

The time we spend in prayer is also critical to our Spiritual well-being.  Each moment of every day is the proper time, especially if we want to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of our lives and get alone with Him.  Regardless of what we are doing at any given moment, He is available to us.  It is good to follow Jesus’ example of being in constant communion with God.  Many times throughout His ministry, Jesus would separate Himself from the throngs of people to be alone with His Father.  As His disciples slept, He would slip away to a mountain top, the starry hosts displayed in splendor above their Creator, and find solace as He talked with God.  His strength would be restored and the horrible burden that was approaching Him briefly lifted as He poured out Himself to His Father.  In these quiet moments of divine conversation, God the Son and God the Father became One.  This reality is also available to us when we take the time to talk with Him.

The place where we pray is probably the least important.  Because God's Spirit physically dwells within every believer, the opportunities we have to approach Him are limitless.  No appointment is necessary.  No formal meeting place need be designated.  We carry Him with us wherever we go, and it is only our own silence that prevents us from having that intimate moment with Him.

Perhaps one of the most telling and amazing examples of the Lord’s desire to commune with us is told in Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden.  God’s presence there was literally physical!  He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, delighting in His creation and desiring their companionship.  Sadly for us, their disobedience took away that glorious privilege of being in His physical presence.  But He sent His Son to remedy the rift that had been established between us and Himself, reestablishing the closeness of the relationship He first had with man, and guaranteeing us that one day we would once again be able to physically stand before Him.

Is that not also our goal?  To be in such intimate closeness with God that each thought we have is spoken to, or is directly related to Him?  The words we speak reflecting His very presence and our expectation of His influence and intercession?  If not, it should be.  We should desire, above all else, to have the same unity Jesus had with His Father.  We should not think that prayer requires formality or ritual, a specific place or a time when it is to be employed and draws us near to Him.  However, we should not be like the hypocrites Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:5-9 who “like to be seen by men” while standing in their preferred places in the synagogue.  These self-righteous men desired to be seen as holy and have the attention of others drawn to them.  Instead, our prayers should be humble, contrite, and repentant like the tax collector who stood far off and beat his breast in confession over his unworthiness, begging for mercy (Luke 18:9-14).  They should be full of praise for Him, and drenched in the dew of adoration and worship.  Our prayers should exalt Him above every trial or trouble we experience, seeking His will that they be overcome.  There should be an open intimacy with God unlike any other relationship we have because He knows our hearts and all of the secret thoughts hidden there.

Neither is it a requirement that prayer be eloquent.  Sometimes we are at a loss for words over certain conditions affecting our lives or the lives of others.  However, it can be said that the fewer the words uttered, the better.  The Holy Spirit continuously searches our hearts for these things, and He carries our petitions to God’s ear.  Words are not necessary because the Holy Spirit and God are in agreement, and the Lord fully understands our groaning (Romans 8:26-27).  Whether it be one word, a person’s name, or simply crying out, “Lord!” His ear is acutely tuned into us.  So much so, in fact, that a single thought or the faintest cry is heard by Him (1Corinthians 2:10-11).  They are “divine articulations within the Trinity that cannot be expressed in words, but carry profound appeals for the welfare of every believer,” according to God’s perfect will. (John MacArthur)

So, how often do you pray?  Is your heart so closely knit to His that you find yourself going throughout the day in constant communication with the Lord, nearly every thought focused on Him?  Wherever you are, or whatever you are doing, have a little talk with Jesus from time to time.  In your room behind closed doors, or in public, honor Him by acknowledging His constant presence and converse with Him, either in prayer for yourself or others, or just to let Him know you are aware He is there.

The Lord desires your praise, your worship, and your prayers.  Whether you groan, pour out a flood of words, or just merely want to have a little talk, He will give you His undivided attention.  And He is patiently waiting for you to start the conversation.

Additional reading:

Psalm 54:2
Luke 6:28; 18:1
Romans 8:26; 12:12
2Corinthians 1:11
Philippians 1:19
Colossians 1:35; 4:2
Hebrews 5:7
1Timothy 2:1; 2:8
1Peter 3:7
Revelation 5:8

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