Friday, November 14, 2008

No IF's AND's or But's

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,


Katherine Aucoin said...

I'm glad people are praying more, we all need as many prayers as we can get. Sometimes God does not answer prayers they way one thinks He should. So probably peoples' prayers are being answered. Just like your sandwich...if you knew there was no meat on it before hand, do you think you would have enjoyed it as much as you did before you found out the meat was missing? Have a blessed weekend Greg!

My ADHD Me said...

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs. Blockin' out the scenery makin' me I can't get that song out of my mind from yesterday.
Liked your post. No ifs, ands, or buts about it!

My ADHD Me said...

Blockin' out the scenery..Breakin' my mind!

Patience said...

Y'know it's not what you say or how you say it. I truly believe it's your state of mind and state of heart!

You can't just go along doing whatever bad things you want to do and expect God to answer your prayers. I just don't believe God hears the prayers of an unrepentant sinner, the key word here being unrepentant!

And if you're going to pray to God to do something for you, you had better be ready to accept his answer! Even if it's not what you thought you wanted, it may be really what you needed!

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

This is a great, great post, Greg.

Wow, I never knew you could write like that.

Ha! Just kiddin my friend. No ifs ands or buts.

I agree with Katherine...God always answers prayer. It's just that sometimes it's a "no" or a "not yet." It's not really trusting Him if we only trust Him when He says "yes."

Great post!

Chatty Kelly said...

Hey - I really liked that! I'd never thought of that before. (and you know how smart I am!) LOL!!

Really a great post. Loved it.

(p.s. I warned you my sister was crazy).

Scarlet said...

Prayer should be bold and genuine, even messy sometimes. I have to share one prayer with you sometime that literally changed my life.

Great post. I love the story about the little girl and all of God's names. ;)

Marla said...

I love the story about the little girl! I think it's a good thing that people are attempting to pray. In my spiritual journey, I thought I really am not good at prayer. I am trying to get better! The more you learn about the lord and are reading his word, and you are sincere in your heart, it becomes so much easier to pray.


Lori said...

You might not believe this but I find it much harder to pray infront of people than sing infront of them. I always feel as if I'm falling over my words.

I do praise the Lord that more and mroe people are praying. I pray they except Him as their Lord and Savior.



Becky said...

I loved the story about your town pray-er. I would have probably done the same thing. I don't speak or pray very well impromptu. Written speeches I can deliver with ease but spontaneity ... lets just say I'm glad God accepts my prayers in all forms as long as they are from the heart.

Kim said...

Another great post! Thanks for your insight. :)

So many times, we pray, with our "perfect answer" already in mind. This doesn't mean we shouldn't pray in Faith and boldness and trust that God will answer, we just have to know he'll answer "according to HIS will"...not ours. This is why, sometimes, we think maybe God isn't answering. ;) I have to remind myself of this often. ;)


Monogram Queen said...

VERY good post Gregg.
I think God rolls his eyes and goes "HER again?" sometimes. Yes I pray THAT much! :)

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