Matthew 6:5-7 (Msg)"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what's best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You're in charge! You can do anything you want! You're ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes.
Shifting Your Focus
Whatever you focus on you will find. In Jeremiah 29:13 God reminds us that if we seek after Him with our whole heart we will find Him. The question is do we really want to find Him? I know that sounds like a crazy statement to make but think about it. Sometimes we are too busy enjoying our issues and problems. Yeah I know I used the word enjoy. It is the truth. By continually focusing on something we give it value and anything we value we enjoy in one way or another. The Bible clearly says in Philippians 4:8, to focus on the good things and not the bad.
The reason why we sometimes shy away from focusing on Him is because He always deals with us first. God always deals with us before He deals with the situation. I know that has been true in my life. When I have needed God to move in a situation He always points to changes in me that I need to implement. Whenever I am asked to preach, God always begins to work on me in the area of my message.
The Power of a Simple Prayer
I use this phrase a lot, "Are you a flash light or a laser beam?" This is a reminder to me as well as to the person I am talking to about focus. We praise the Jack of All Trades but I think we should be valuing the Master of One more. I am more guilty of this than anyone. I have so much random knowledge in my head that it isn't funny. However being able to do so many different things has often lead me astray. God hasn't called us to be flash lights. A Flashlight shines brightly but isn't very focused. It can illuminate your path. A laser beam, while not very bright, is able to travel long distances and make its own path. Two different results but they are both just lights.
In Matthew 6 we see two very different prayers. The first prayer is eloquent and dynamic. Or as I heard this week, bombastic. It uses flowery words and has a rhythm and cadence. It is like music. The second prayer is simple, direct and most importantly effective. So why do we value the former over the latter. This is another one where I am also guilty. I have caught myself praying and then wondered, "What am I doing?" 10 minutes in and I haven't said anything. Then I think, would I talk to my father like this? Now we still have to be respectful of God however are we just waxing poetic because we can. So Jesus gives us a simple model to follow and we should let that guide us. Not just in prayer but also in life.
Flashlight or Laser Beam... You Choose!