While driving to church one Sunday morning, we listened to a preacher on the radio, who gave a short, but, very profound lesson on prayer. I'd like to share some of what he said with you. It really got me to thinking about some things in an entirely new way.
Depending on our upbringing, personal experiences... etc. we may each view prayer a little differently. "Prayer is powerful" can seem like a cliche' to some people. I have personally witnessed God perform MIRACLES as a result of prayer, but my human mind tends to forget the awesomeness of God sometimes. Whenever I'm *trying* to patiently wait on God to answer my prayers, the phrase "prayer is powerful" seems to sound less and less convincing each time I say it. Prayer IS powerful. I know that. But sometimes I don't claim that statement for myself personally. It's more of: "Well, God can do that for THEM... but I'm not even sure He cares that much about my situation" type of thinking.
Yes, there are many cliche's about prayer. About being in your "closet" in daily prayer. It may become a repetitious, mechanical act for some of us at times. There are many statements we can make about prayer, but perhaps the most important one is: Prayer is intimate. It's an INTIMATE one-on-one conversation between you and God. Any important relationship in your life requires intimacy. There are a lot of Christian books out there about prayer. Lots of "4-steps to this kind of prayer life"... and so on) type philosophies. But, imagine this: You meet a person for the first time. You really hit it off. Your personalities really seem to click with one another as you chatter on about this and that... then as it's time to leave, you say, "Alright well, I think this could be the start of a great friendship! So, I think we should follow this 6-step program on how to become great friends. The first step is: we've gotta spend a lot of time together... and so on... blah blah blah..." How do you think that person would feel? Well, they'd probably think you were pretty weird for starters :) and they would probably prefer that you talk to them in the future because they interested you; not because you were following steps in a program. Right? Well, now let's apply that thinking to God. He genuinely wants to have a PERSONAL, INTIMATE relationship with us that involves communication (i.e. prayer.)
Matthew 6:6 (NIV) says, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
He doesn't want us to talk to Him only when we think others are watching. He also doesn't want us to be ashamed to talk to Him when others ARE watching. It's not ABOUT those other people- it's about YOU AND GOD! That's the point!
Now, let's relate this thought about intimacy with Revelation 3:16. God tells us that He would rather us be hot or cold, instead of lukewarm. I'll be honest with you, I have never fully understood this verse. I thought, "Isn't warm better than COLD, God? Why wouldn't you rather someone be a LITTLE interested than not interested at all in you??" It didn't make sense to me. But, that radio preacher gave an illustration which helped me see this verse from a different angle. There was a man who called the preacher for a counseling session. He said, "I am so afraid that I've completely alienated myself from God for good." "What did you do?" the preacher asked. "Well, I was upset about a circumstance in my life and I started blaming God. I got so angry at Him, that I cursed His name. Now I realize my anger was wrongly directed, but I don't know if He will forgive me." The preacher responded with a question. "What is the opposite of love?" The man finally answered "Hate, I guess." "No, the opposite of love is indifference. No one can hate something they care nothing about. You can't muster up any kind of emotion if you are not interested."
How many marriages are torn apart because one or both of the spouses become indifferent? Maybe a husband would rather sit and watch television than work out his problems with his wife. There isn't much hope of recovery if you are not interested in recovery- is there?
So, God would rather us hot or cold. He despises lukewarm. Be overwhelmed with love and joy, or be angry- but FEEL SOMETHING! Perhaps this is a liberal interpretation of this verse, but it really made me think in a whole new way! I am very in love with my Savior. I have also gotten very angry and offended at Him in the past. I faced those feelings, asked for mercy, and He helped me come through my hurt. But, it's when I become INDIFFERENT towards God, when I lose interest and no longer make time to talk to Him that He says He will "spew me out of His mouth".
He wants intimacy. He wants my love. He wants my heart. All the rest is pomp and circumstance.
Hopefully I gave you something new to think about. I'll be chewing on that sermon for awhile...