I’m at my Denomination district church camp, and I have the privilege (joking) of working in the accommodation section this week. Our booking system is fully automated except for receipts for payments, done ‘hand-draulicly’. I generally prepare many reports, documents etc. and have used computers, tablets and even my phones to do my “written” work. As I prepared my first handwritten receipt,
I struggled a little. I had forgotten how to draw the letter G. I have been writing/printing since I was five and remember the drills we did in school, writing our letters repeatedly until they looked readable. But over the past few years, I’ve been typing, and this simple four-line receipt reminded me how easy it is to get out of practice.
Do you see my writing dilemma similar to an activity taught in scripture, such as ‘Prayer practice’. Prayer is both crucial and essential in our walk with Christ. We need prayer to sustain us in this world that is moving further away from God. But some may have become rusty at prayer. When they first believed, and someone told them of prayer’s importance, they practiced it. They may have read prayers written by others, listened to others in their community pray and tried to pray. They were probably a little confused about what they should say and how they should say it. Maybe they became self-conscious about how their prayers did not sound like others, so they slowly shut down and avoided prayer.
Jesus wanted to set the record straight on how people should pray. He knew the people had watched their leaders pray, leaders who had put on public display of prayer. They drew attention to themselves. Jesus saw this and called these leaders out for what they were: hypocrites. Instead of hypocrisy, Jesus offered His followers a safeguard guaranteed to keep their prayers genuine: “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6). Notice Jesus says, “when you pray,” not “if you pray,” suggesting that prayer is ongoing.
I paused as I filled out the receipt, realizing I was out of practice. I decided to write this article before I committed to typing it. When I was done, I noticed my chicken scratch could compete with any doctor, but I felt good. I was reminded that to be proficient or at least comfortable with an activity, you should practice. Some may not like the suggestion that prayer requires practice, but I can assure you that when you practice speaking to God, your prayers will become easier. You will stop trying to imitate others, forget about trying to sound holy and open your heart to having a loving conversation with God.
God wants an open relationship with us which includes prayer. Don’t wonder when was the last time you prayed; start now. Go into your inner room and talk with God. He knows about your prayers and maybe how you have struggled. But He is loving and patient and will wait on you as you become comfortable talking with Him.
Dr. A.C Dixon (bible expositor, once wrote, “When we rely on organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely on education, we get what education can do; when we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do; and so on. I am not disposed to undervalue any of these things in their proper place – BUT when we rely on prayer, we get what God can do.”