Tue January 16, 2024

By Press Release

Come In a Little Closer
Prayer is such a gift! I was just reading in Matthew 6 where Jesus says “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Do you believe this? We sometimes treat prayer like a vending machine. We approach the need meet-er in our time with the right change in our pocket, make a selection and get frustrated if it isn’t quickly delivered to our specifications.

Prayer has never worked like that. The primary goal is not for us to get what we want or even for us to receive what we need. The primary goal of prayer is for us to be near God. Instead of spending our prayers going down the list of want-to’s and must-haves, let’s back up, take a minute and enjoy the presence of God.

This is how James says it. “You fight and quarrel because you don’t have what you want. You don’t receive because you don’t ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. But God gives more grace! Submit to God. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Humble yourselves and He will lift you up.” (my paraphrase of James 4.1-10)

Do you hear those words? I mean really hear them? Our anxiety is felt because we don’t draw near to God. We’d rather spend our days fighting and mixing it up with everyone else. Fear still grips our hearts because we keep trying to burrow our way into a place of satisfaction. The only problem is we set the standard for our satisfaction in a place no one can reach it. We want the house like the one down the road, the car like the new one on the lot, the furniture like they have in the store and the clothes like the models in the magazines. We want all this and enough money to buy it all again once we’re tired of it. We set our standard there and then work and worry until we get to a place that’s half as good and wear out. We’ll never find satisfaction that way. What’s a better way?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Pull up a chair. Sit in the quiet long enough to unclog your ears and unstop your soul. Read the Bible without an agenda. Enjoy the Lord and the beauty of His presence! Then pray. Pray out of that place of contentment He provides.

What happens next? We find a new set of passions. We discover a piece of the life Jesus intends for us and love it. We begin to lay down the vending machine model and take up the joy Jesus freely supplies. And it all happens so easily.

The phrase that grabs me is when we talk about pray-er’s who “pour themselves out before the Lord.” David writes in Psalm 62, “…pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” I love those words! The poured-out life, not the gathered-up life, will be the one to see God. We aren’t working to gather up all we can so we can finally be happy. We are looking to pour out all we can possibly empty so we can be near God without any distractions…and He can be near us.

I’ve watched grown men on their knees, wetting the floor with their tears, begging God for the salvation of their families and friends and neighbors. I’ve seen people so broken they had hardly any food to eat, yet they willingly shared their food with me and went hungry themselves. I’ve seen people so empty they barely had a roof over their heads, yet they would move out of their house to give me a place to lay my head. God honors the person who begins to humbly pray. When we come to the end of our explanations and struggle, and pour out our very souls to the Lord, He picks us up. That is impossible for the pride-filled person to do. And that person will never see God work in the ways we all dream about. If it’s a child they are asking for, they will remain barren. If it’s food, their table will be empty. If it’s friends, they’ll be lonely. If it’s healing, they’ll stay sick. It’s the one who pours himself out that hears from God; is lifted up by God.

You want to see real answers to your prayers? Humble yourself before God. Let go of the pride that keeps you tied up in knots, wondering what people think about you or how you are going to dig out of the messes you find yourself in. You don’t think you can pour yourself out? Ask God to humble you. You want to draw near to God? He knows what you need before you ask Him. Just ask…