“Let’s bow our heads and close our eyes…..” That’s what the preacher said. Why? Why did he say that? What is the real purpose of closing our eyes?
- To block out distractions
- To collect our thoughts in an orderly fashion to express our thanks or petitions to God.
- To focus on God, and His holiness, purity, power, omniscience, preservation, and love (among many)
- NOT to sleep, nap, coast, or worry.
A great friend of mine named Logan told me one time that his most effective prayers were said out loud. He said it trained him to concentrate, to stay focused, and to express his heart to God with true authenticity.
Let’s take a look at praying……
The words “pray”, “prayer”, and “prayers” together total almost 500 times in the Bible. Some are found more times, like “Lord” (over 7,000 times), God (over 4,000 times), Man (almost 3,000 times), Israel (almost 3,000 times), and on down. But prayer is so important because it involves ACTION directly with man and God. There is an odd connective action with prayer. A child will look to a parent for answers and things, with the parent having limited resources. But a conversation with God involves action between a person with limited resources and God, who has unlimited resources.
Think about that for a moment. The two verses in I Chronicles 4, where Jabez asks God in prayer: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”
Just thinking if Jabez ever dozed off, or got distracted during his prayers. Well, on THIS prayer, he petitioned God for several things, one of which being “Expand my coast” (meaning influence geographically, and well as influence socially and spiritually). God answers in a very profound way. And God granted him THAT WHICH HE HAD REQUESTED.
Major stuff here. Did it mean he pleaded with God over and over about something? Doesn’t say. Did it mean he just said it cavalierly once, like between mouthfuls of lunch? Doesn’t say. Did it mean Jabez just fit it in between his job and sailing in the Mediterranean Sea? Doesn’t say. But it DID say Jabez was more honorable than his brethren. It didn’t say he was prefect, just more honorable. So what is “more honorable”?
- Paying attention to who God is, what He can do, and why He does what He does, and when.
- Paying attention to focusing on the real issues facing a person. Don’t drift. If it’s really important to you, then mean it! Don’t get distracted, ask God out loud.
- Paying attention with the faith that God will grant us what matches the needs of us humans and the sovereign will of God, and His timetable.
- Paying attention to how much time we spend in prayer, and the embracing of what answer He grants.
- Selecting topics that are serious. Now, God doesn’t mind guiding us to lost keys, blessing us with surprises in the form of financials, people, and experiences; or just praying to love Him. But we can’t be overly broad with a request, like, “I pray for peace in the world.” The Bible says there will be no peace in this world until the very end. Peace is defined now as, when the shooting stops and everyone is re-loading. So, pray with a confident heart, a mind full of anticipation, and a smile towards heaven.
“Lord, let us freely come to You, and grant us an expansion of our coasts, as You see fit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”