Have you noticed how many people are praying these days? People who never used to pray or at least were never outspoken about prayer are now vocal about it. I guess it could just be that they kept it to themselves. I remember back at my last place of employment when I put on a luncheon for the people who worked for me. I invited the support group to joins us as well. Before the meal, I said the blessing. After I finished one of the ladies said; “Way to go Greg, I never knew you could pray like that.” I can't believe she said that. Anyway, people are praying these days much more than they used to. I guess it is a sign of the times.
We start our little town meetings with a prayer. An elderly black gentleman usually does the honors. I like his prayers because they are so inspiring. He starts out with grand descriptions of God, then asks God for his blessing on the meeting, thanks him for the blessings he has given us and then gives a short ending.
At the last meeting though, he was caught off guard. Usually there are 5 to 10 people at the town meetings. However the other night, due to the topics being discussed, there were about 100 people there. This man arrived late and opened the door to see a full house. Because he was late, they started the meeting the minute he arrived at the front table and they immediately asked him to say the prayer. Normally he gets there early enough to sit and gather his thoughts before being asked to speak.
This is how it went:
Oh Precious Heavenly Father, Creator of all the universe, Master from the beginning of time, Wonderful giver of life, Ruler of man, All knowing, and ever present, Forgiver of sins and our eternal God. (big pause) In his blessed name we pray, Amen.
My son looked over at me and gave me that confused look like he missed something.
It reminded me of the time I went to subway and ordered my favorite sandwich at the drive through. When I got where I was going, I opened my package to see the sandwich I love. It was golden brown on the top and smelled wonderful. I bit right in and began eating. I was about half finished when I noticed that something was missing. There was no meat in the sandwich. I have to tell you though that it still tasted pretty good without the meat. I felt the same about his prayer. Even though he never said anything in the middle, the beginning and ending were great so it didn’t matter.
In addition to hearing a lot of people talk about praying, I have heard a lot of people say that their prayers haven’t been answered. Now I know not ALL people are saying this but some are. I thought maybe with this rush of prayers, God is overloaded. No, that’s not it. He can handle the volume. Then I thought maybe people are just saying bad prayers. I mean the first time I tried to ride a bicycle I did some things wrong and maybe a few of you are too. Now before you start gathering stones hear me out. And no I am not by any means an expert on praying but there are a few “don’ts” when it comes to praying. Just remember;
No if’s and’s or but’s.
If you are putting IF’s into your prayers you may be messing up. IF’s are usually used when we are in a jam and we want out so we are willing to cut a deal.
God IF you will just get me out of the speeding ticket, I will promise to go to church every Sunday and put money in the collection plate. From what I know, God doesn’t make deals like that. Again I am no expert but I think I am right on this issue. Agreeing do so something IF God will do something for you won’t get your prayer moved up on His to-do list.
Now when we were young, “and’s” were ok because we were young and thought small. I remember saying my prayers; Bless Mommy AND Daddy AND Brother AND Sister AND Grandma AND Fido AND Kitty AND……… I just realized that most kids are taught to start their prayers with Bless Mommy and Daddy. I never realized that but parents have a racket going on there.
Too many “And’s” can soften a prayer.
If you are asking God for something then there should be something that you really want or need. This is not a congressional bill so adding little things on as riders won’t work. God is not going to answer your prayer to give you inner peace and throw in a new car. Nice try though.
Adding But’s makes it a “my way or no way” prayer. For example. God help me get out of this financial situation BUT I want to keep everything that I own. Or God I can’t take this pressure at work BUT I want to keep my job or get a better one. People what to God to help them out but they want it their way. This isn’t Burger King. This is "The King" you are taking to.
I hope these pointers helped a few of you out. And speaking of being taught how to pray. I am reminded of this story:
A mother was teaching her very young daughter how to pray. She was teaching her the Lord’s Prayer. After reading it to her daughter the little girl asked why God had so many names. Confused, the mother asked what she meant. The girl said. Is God’s name; Art, Hal or Ed? Still confused the mother asked what she meant by that. The little girl said; “Well you just said Our father who is “Art” in heaven and “Hal” or “Ed” be thy name.” So which is it?
Have a blessed day and keep smiling and praying,