Some years back, as our church was studying through the Book of 1 Samuel, we saw the beginning of Saul being gripped by the sin of envy and oh what an ugly picture it was! Envy quickly led Saul down a path of incredible evil. In 1 Samuel 18 we only see the beginning of that slippery slope but even there the malignant poison of jealousy led him to take his spear into his hand and hurl it at David (twice!) even while David’s hands were ministering to him on the harp.
Tag: Prayer (Page 1 of 2)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6)
It appears, given the 24/7 news-cycle in our society, that we have the option of worrying about more things than any previous generation on planet earth. Not because our exact situations are as worrisome as they could be, but because we are afforded plenty of other options to consider both locally and internationally. In recent years we have heard numerous threats of nuclear warfare from North Korea, we have seen China’s militarization in the South China Sea, Russia’s aggression towards neighboring Ukraine and its involvement in the conflict in Syria, societal destabilization in Venezuela, and that doesn’t even include talk of Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism. On our own shores, there has been repeated seasons of rising and falling concern with relationship to the prospect of a terrorist attack, an increasing cost of living (at least in some places), continuing moral decline, concern over the way in which media outlets seem incensed to fan flames of societal discord, and so on.
I have found that a common experience among Christians, myself included, is fighting to stay focused in times of prayer. Have you been there? Perhaps you were there this morning. You know, the times where it seems like to-do lists of things that need to get done come to your mind and you wonder, “Why am I thinking of those things right now?” Or, as you move from one sentence to another or from one request to another, it feels surprisingly difficult to keep a steady stream of thought.
When was the last time you prayed that prayer?
I think there is, for many Christians, sometimes, a sense of aversion to praying like that given the great abuse of the subject of faith in ‘television evangelicalism’. People hear well-polished, self-help gurus posing as evangelical preachers saying things like, “Believe that God has abundance coming your way”, “believe God is going to get you that bigger house and that nicer car”, “believe that you will get that promotion”, and they think, “These ‘faith-guys’ are saying ‘believe this and that’ as a guise for inciting materialistic cravings in their hearers! They don’t preach through the books of Scripture. They don’t focus in on the glories and excellencies of the Savior. Rather, every week it’s the same thing: “God wants you to have more”, “Give Him permission to bless you by believing Him”, “Don’t settle for just enough when you can have an abundance”. Thus, the rampant abuse of the subject of faith has inadvertently lead many to forget how important of a subject it is beyond its quintessential role in salvation.
Yesterday’s Daily Teaching was entitled, “A Little Bible Reading is Better than No Bible reading.” The premise was simple – the potency of God’s word is not determined by quantity. Jesus, for example, spoke short succinct commands when He raised the dead, stilled the sea, and healed the sick. Those words had life-giving power in them; and so does the text of Scripture. Therefore, even a little Bible-reading on a given day is much better than no Bible reading.
Now, with that being said, let us also be reminded that a little time in prayer is so much better than no time in prayer. The publican’s prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 9:13) was brief but impactful (vs.14). Nehemiah’s prayer, prompted in response to Artaxerxes’ question (Neh. 2:4), must have been incredibly short – reading verses four and five of chapter two show how his prayer must have happened in his head in between hearing the king’s question and giving him an answer. But given the fact that the Spirit saw fit to inspire that narrative detail connotes its importance. Consider the length of Solomon’s four-verse prayer in response to the LORD’s appearance to Him in a dream by night (1 Ki. 3:6-9). From what we read in the text, it surely doesn’t look to have taken him even five minutes to pray that prayer. But nevertheless, what he said “pleased the Lord” (vs.10a).
Too often people are not spending time in prayer because they think, “I ought to be giving God more time than just five minutes on my knees.” Granted. I can understand that sentiment. It’s legitimate. But if that way of thinking sounds familiar to you please be reminded – five minutes is much better than nothing. In five minutes you can pray through the Lord’s Prayer (Mt. 6:9-13). In five minutes you can pray through most psalms. In five minutes you can pray through some of the prayers of the apostle Paul (Eph. 1:17-19; 3:16-19; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-14; 1 Thes. 3:11-13; 2 Thes. 2:16-17; 3:5). In five minutes you can tell God how thankful you are in a one-on-one personal way, make mention of about 25 people (give or take) that come to your mind, confess your sins to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to fill you afresh with His Spirit. In five minutes you can enjoy exhaling and remembering that you’re loved, not because of your prayer performance, but because of God’s grace. In five minutes you can pray for your family, your church, your neighborhood, and your elected officials.
And the list could go on.
The point is – you can do a lot more in five minutes of prayer than you might at first realize; which in itself illustrates the reality: a little time in prayer is better than no time in prayer.