Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room … because the devil doesn’t get lazy around you. (1)
Most Christians only pray when they are desperate.
As Screwtape might say to Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters:
“Never let them think they need to pray. Let them have enough confidence in themselves and fate that they do not ask Jesus to intervene. This way they create more space for our tempting ploys.”
Prayer is a bother to us because we have nothing measurable to show for it at the end of the day.
This is why many pastors rarely pray.
How do you explain to the Church Board that the 3 hours you spent in prayer this morning was productive work, while Mr Jones and Mrs. Smith were at nursing home ailing in loneliness, while Darrin was off being a teenage derelict, and while the homeless at the shelter needed someone to cook them breakfast?
Let’s be honest, what would impress your boss and friends the most?
Tell them you woke up at 6 AM and prayed for 3 hours for the Spirit of God to mold your heart and mind, to send Jones and Smith a friend, to get Darrin on track, and to motivate volunteers to work at the homeless shelter.
Tell them that you woke up at 6 AM to serve breakfast at the homeless shelter, then met with Darrin before he went to school, and visited with Smith and Jones as you passed the nursing home before arriving at the office at 9 AM.
No contest here. We know who will get the big raise.
Genuine praise, adoration, and glory comes to the man, woman, or child who works for God serving the needy, while pleasing pleasant platitudes are offered for prayers.
At the end of Luke 10, when Martha complained to Jesus that her sister avoided kitchen work to listen to him, Jesus said:
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (2)
In Luke 11:1, Jesus is praying and one of his disciples said, “Jesus teach us how to pray!”
We all need more knee time with God.
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I compiled this quote by combining two statements, the first from Oswald Chambers and the latter from Martin Luther. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986). Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 240). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Luke 10:41–42.