By John Braland
I read a story about a small town in the south that was alcohol free until a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter, lightning struck the bar and burned it to the ground.
The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible.
The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that “no matter how this comes out, one thing is clear: The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.” (Pivotal Praying, page 51)
As I reflect over the past few months, my life seems to be very full, but my prayer life seems to be very empty. I have been busy dealing with the new site, handling a heavy pastoral workload, meeting family obligations, and keeping up with the Kardashians (just kidding). I must confess that lately, my prayer life has been more of a mechanical exercise than a spiritual discipline. This isn’t what God wants or what I need. God wants me to pray because I need Him, not just because I am needy.
I had a friend who only called me when he needed something. I’m sure you can relate. The phone would ring and it would be “Ralph.” Ralph would need me to help him move, so I would help him move. A few weeks later Ralph needed a friend to talk to because he broke up with his girlfriend, and so I listened to him. Then Ralph needed me to fix his car, so I did. The list goes on and on.
While helping Ralph one day, it dawned on me that Ralph only called when Ralph needed help. I was more of a hired hand than a true friend and this irked me. The next time Ralph called and needed help fixing his washing machine, I was busy. He called three days later needing help with his car; unfortunately I was unavailable. Two weeks later Ralph needed a ride, but I was in the middle of something.
Ralph eventually stopped calling and thinking back, we never really had a friendship, he just used me.
Good friends care about each other all the time, not just when they need something. God wants me to communicate with Him on a spiritual level, not just a mechanical one. He doesn’t want me to only call Him when I need help; He wants to communicate with me often.
In his book, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says, “Prayer is a relationship, not just a religious activity. Prayer is designed more to adjust you to God than to adjust God to you. God doesn’t need your prayers, but he wants you to pray. You need to pray because of what God wants in and through your life during your praying. God speaks to His people by the Holy Spirit through prayer.”
God wants more than your needs; he wants you to communicate with him like good friends sharing life over a cup of hot coffee. God wants to enjoy you and listen to you and in return give you His peace. Today, bring God more than your needs, bring him your heart. Talk to him like a friend, enjoy His love and grace, and in doing do, be richly blessed.
John Braland is the lead pastor at Freshwater Community Church in St. Bonifacius and Waconia.