Monday, March 4, 2013

Stop Praying. Really?

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
(Ephesians 6:18 NLT)

When I first opened Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love, I found myself intrigued by the Chapter Titles.  This first week, the title says "Stop Praying."  I was ready to jump into his book - ready to argue against his point, whatever it may be, because God has clearly directed us to pray.  Paul, an Apostle of Jesus, encouraged us to pray all the time!  How, then, could he have the gall to tell us to stop praying?

Then I started thinking about the reactions I had to that statement.  Part of me wanted to go start praying just cause he told me to stop.  Another part of me felt a little twinge of guilt because I started thinking about the things I hadn't brought before God in prayer...and maybe I should have.  Still another part couldn't even fathom the idea of going through a day without talking with my best friend.  How could I possibly stop praying?

My mind began to travel, then, to the prayers I have throughout the day.  I pray before meals, of course, asking God to bless what I'm about to eat.  (When I eat out, I pray for the people who prepare and serve the food as well.)  I talk to Him about the things I'm facing - my struggles and worries.  I pray for requests that people share with me.  In other words, I let Him know what I would like Him to do today.  Then I started thinking about the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray.

"Pray, then, in this way: 
'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 
'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. 
'Give us this day our daily bread. 
'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. '
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]' 
(Matthew 6:9-13 NASB)

Do I ask Him to...
...deliver me from evil?  Check.
...forgive me? Check.  
...forgive them? ...yeah...Check.
...provide for me?  Check. out His kingdom through me?  Um...yeah...ok, yeah...Check. His Glory through me?  ... His Holiness through me?  ...

What does God's Glory look like?  What does it really mean to be Holy as He is Holy?  Do I really want that in my life?  Do I really want everything on my "to do" list for God to be a lower priority?  Am I even talking to God about the right things?

Maybe I should stop praying.  I'm not saying I should stop forever or for a year or a month or even a day.  I'm saying that maybe I should stop praying long enough to set my list aside and really try to see the Glory of God.  I should take the time to think about the grandeur of His Glory, His Holiness, His Name.  Maybe I should stop talking for just a little while and start looking, listening, and experiencing what it's like to simply be in the presence of an Almighty God.  Then, I can start praying again.