Miss Ethel Lee of Picton, Ont., serves the Lord in Bible teaching among women and children and in follow-up work for Camp Mini-Yo-We. This is her first article in Focus.
The scene is a school cafeteria. As two students eat their lunch, one talks incessantly. She speaks of her father, doing so with love, excitement and respect. The friend listens attentively. She has heard of the father’s attributes before and realizes how deeply he is loved by his daughter. Without hesitation the request to meet this great man is made. The answer was dumbfounding! Her father lived in another country. Her parents were divorced when she was a young child. She hadn’t seen or talked to her dad for twelve years!
How depictive this is of prayer life. As people who know God, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we often speak to others of our love for Him. We can, in the light of Scripture, and through personal experience, speak of His love and mercy. We can teach His attributes. We can open His Word and find ourselves comfortably in history, prophecy or poetry. We know the miracles and parables. We see the weakness and strength of the Apostles and early church. We do so with love, excitement and respect. Sometimes others look with amazement. But — how often do we talk to the Lord?
Are we like the young student who talks about, but never to, her father?
We talk about prayer. We believe it is a privilege given by the Lord. We believe in the power of prayer. Why do we not use and benefit from this great privilege? Two reasons come to mind; one is an over-active Christian life and the other is a lack of understanding why we pray.
An over-active life can be very damaging to our conformity to the image of Christ. In many cases it denies the leading of the Holy Spirit. We rationalize that our busyness is honouring Him. However, it so occupies the mind and time that we are not still long enough to hear His directions. Often it removes the quiet spirit that our world needs to see. Especially neighbours who know us only as people driving off to meetings, morning, noon and night. We become machines that are not productive — worn out through lack of oiling. Our prayers ejaculate as we wait for a red light to turn green —‘safety as we drive, bless the speaker, bring in the needy, keep the children safely.’
Why do we pray? Is it not the purpose of knowing God better? Prayer is time to contemplate His Holiness to dwell upon His mercy and justice — a time of quiet adoration. It is knowing when to speak and when to listen. It is a willingness to listen so that we recognize the still small voice which says ‘this is the way, walk ye in it.’ It is knowing that the purpose for coming is not to receive but to give and that receiving is a result of giving. It is learning to recognize, not only His voice, but his ways. It is a time when His studied Word takes on fuller meaning. A time when the nutrients of His Word become the very fibre of our spiritual well being. It is being with the Father!