West Franklin Family,
I pray a lot. Without a doubt I need to pray more. Paul said to do it without stopping. There is a lot of growth that needs to happen for sure. But I do pray a lot. I don’t say this to brag. It’s in the occupational air that I breathe as a pastor. Let’s face it: I get paid to pray. I tell people all the time I will pray for them. People text me or email me or call me or stop me in the hall on Sunday and ask me to pray for something. I pray with people in person. I pray with them over the phone. I pray publicly and privately. I love this and am happy to do so. As a Christian, I pray. As a pastor, I pray. As a father of three teenage children – I pray more than I used to (grin).
But that’s just it. Way more than I like to admit, I pray because I am supposed to. I pray out of duty. I pray because I want to be true to my word when I tell someone I will pray for them. On one level, that is fine and good. Yes, I am supposed to pray. Yes, I need to be a man of my word. Yes, pastor’s are to preach the Word and pray. And, yes, I believe God hears and answers prayers prayed out of a dutiful heart.
But. . .
I read this recently and it stopped me in my prayer-kneeling tracks: “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3) The words “wait expectantly” struck me. As I chewed on this verse, it hit me that prayer was, for me, just a duty. A responsibility. Something to check off my “to do” list. Part of a pastoral job description. David, however, prayed with anticipation. He prayed expecting an answer. He prayed to a God he knew heard him and would actually answer his request.
In other words, when David prayed he prayed with a hopeful, watchful posture. When he prayed, he was entering into (or continuing) a conversation with a Person. He didn’t pray because he had to. He prayed because he got to. He didn’t pray because it was his “job” as a child of God. He prayed because he was, in fact, a child of God. After he prayed, he waited. He watched. He looked. He scanned the terrain. He sought the work of God ushering in the spiritual kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He prayed, not to check off his to do list. He prayed knowing the Father would actually act. He knew when he prayed, God heard. And if his loving Father heard, his loving Father would be at work answering his child’s prayers.
I pray a lot. Yes. But, if I am being honest with you, I cannot remember the last time I prayed expectantly. Not just hoping God will, one day in the future, act. But confidently knowing He is working and answering and gently forcing Himself into situations and lives and hearts and relationships. Too often I pray so I can get it over with. David prayed so he could see the Father work in concert with his requests. This isn’t to say David expected God to answer all his prayers the way he desired. No. But it is to say that after David said “Amen,” he was keenly aware and watchful of God working in and around him.
What do you do after you say “Amen”? What is your posture throughout the day after a morning of prayer? Do we need to pray? Yes. Should we pray? Of course. Is it our responsibility as Christians? You bet. But prayer is more alive than that. Prayer carries a “what is God going to show me about this today?” position. Not a, “okay. . . got that done!” mentality. David’s expectancy reminds us that prayer is not a rote thing that we do. Prayer is a relationship we are invited into. And it’s not finished at the “Amen.” Amen is just the beginning.
Because He Lives and Listens,
My Bible will be open to Romans 1:16-17 tomorrow as we continue examining our Vision moving forward. (Last week’s Vision sermon here.)
Tomorrow Night: Family Gathering – 5-7 PM. Can’t. Wait.