I was at my Bible Study tonight with some friends. We’d had a really great and biblical discussion and it was time to close in prayer. Our little circle gathered all of our prayer requests together and then we all listened as our originator prayed. As he prayed though, I was struck with a reality.
I remember telling someone one night in my effort to preach the gospel to him, that his prayers were heard. I had a thought as if something almost magical was taking place at that moment. We were communicating with the most awesome being of all and if Christianity is true, we are being heard.
I wonder if maybe that’s why we can be so lackluster in prayer. Do we really think that God is hearing us? Do we really know who this God is that we are praying to and what he has done in the past and is doing now? Is he really such an overwhelming influence in our lives that we live our days in awe?
I’ll go on and confess that I’m not at that point yet. It seems we make prayer so that it is difficult to do. Maybe we do expect too much. Emotions aren’t the strong point of all of us, but there should be some feeling of awe. When we pray, are we merely saying vain words, or are we really believing that our prayers are heard?
This is one of the great dangers of our lives. Our lives can become ritualized. We read the Bible simply because we’re Christians and that’s what we do. We pray because we’re Christians and that’s what we do. It’s the reason we go to church or help out people in need. How many of us have helped out someone in need and been annoyed at doing it but thought, “Well, I’m a Christian so I gotta do it.”
That’s probably one of our greatest dangers. We don’t really get to live the excitement of the Christian life. Oh we can sit down and watch a movie we’ve seen several times before and say “I love this movie!” or we can listen to a song we’ve heard several times before and say “I love this song!”, but dare we read a passage of Scripture we’ve read before?
I would point the finger again at a loss of wonder. Movies can hold us in wonder. Music can hold us in wonder. Prayer and Scripture don’t. Might I posit a culprit for this? (Of course I might. It’s my blog and I can do what I want.) I would say that the culprit in all of these is holiness.
I’m not talking about biblical holiness. I’m talking about our conception of holiness. Somehow when we say “Holy Bible”, we enter this austere mode where we think we have to be reverentially silent and control our emotions and think only the holiest of thoughts and not laugh or enjoy ourselves. Somehow, our society has equated holiness with boring.
Don’t believe it? Go watch a movie based on a book of Scripture sometime. Everyone in them seems to speak in a monotone all the time. You don’t see smiles. You see just people walking around as if they’re all in a sour mood and trying to be better than everyone else. I hate to say it, but biblical movies usually are boring.
Yet here’s something to consider. Spirituality is considered exciting. Be it the sentimentalism of “Touched by an Angel” or the New Age of Sylvia Browne. Things that are “spiritual” have an air of excitement and danger to them. Why else do we have so many TV shows and movies with those kinds of themes?
Why are those exciting? Probably because we give them an air of surprise and excitement. You’re talking to a psychic! Anything could happen! They’re in touch with the other side! Here’s what I’m wondering. If talking to dead uncle Fred is exciting, why isn’t talking to the God of all creation exciting?
My solution? Restore that wonder. If you want to laugh while reading Scripture some, do so. Celebrate your emotions when studying. Be honest in your prayers and realize who you’re speaking to. One of the best prayers I know of is the one of Dwight L. Moody after a long day of ministry prayed “Lord, I’m tired. Good night.”
Also, remember the truth about what it is you believe and who it is you believe. We look at holiness as a punishment today. We need to change that and look at holiness as exciting. Holiness is not meant to keep us from having a good time. It is meant to make sure we have a good time.
Why don’t we? Let’s remember our prayers are heard. Let’s be holy. Really holy.