“Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him” (Psalm 4:3 NIV).
“When I call upon the name of the Lord, He hears me.” Do we really believe this?
The question is asked because of observations made when listening to people pray. The first thing we must remember is when we pray–we are talking to God–not people around us, in front of us, over the telephone or even on the Web. Since we are talking to God to ask of Him–is there any need for us to have long, repetitious conversation with God? Do we need to moan, groan, or screech or pierce ear drums to get His attention? The answer very simply is–no!
God is not deaf and He does not have a memory problem, nor is He distracted by our noise or other superficial modes of conversing with Him. He knows who we are and whether we have been faithful to Him or not. Do we know if we have been faithful or not? Perhaps–we don’t. Hence, this is why some go through all the machinations of presenting oneself to be holy or righteous in the sight of others. Perhaps, if we truly read the Bible with understanding we would know this and church services could be cut in half.
When Jesus is teaching, He uses the story of the Pharisee (religious one) and the tax collector who were praying in the temple (Luke 18:11-13). But now, this is the response that Jesus gave His disciples regarding the one who understood they were talking to God. “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14 NIV). For those who may still be lost on the inference–Jesus explained that the tax collector was more justified with his simple request than the Pharisee who has a feeling of superiority and therefore thinks God should hear him.
Public prayers should be simple and get right to the point. We should not pray in an attempt to impress others with our wordiness or emotional state. When we know we are faithful to God (not so concerned with man), we can pray effective prayers that God will hear and answer. An offering prayer (before or after) should be about the offering–not the sick or government or anything else. A prayer to ask God’s blessings over food should be just that--not everything and everyone else. A prayer for the pastor should be about the pastor–not everyone else. A prayer for leadership (all types) should be about that. A prayer for the sick should be for those who are incapable of praying for themselves and when possible–accompanied with the laying on of hands and/or anointing with oil. A prayer to receive Holy Spirit does not take all night (just moments), nor does a person have to be in a specific position or mode of prayer to receive--the gift–just a willingness to receive. A prayer of repentance should be just that–an acknowledgment of turning away from sin. People have repented of sin when they were alone and God responded. I know–I did! We need to understand the purpose of specificity in our prayer lives rather than trying to impress others.
We make too much of a public spectacle of ourselves during times of prayer because of our lack of knowledge. God does not respond to emotionalism–He responds to faith. The faithful, He has set apart for Himself. The next time you pray, be faithful and know that He hears the first time–even if you whisper.
Father, in the name of Jesus, thank You for hearing and answering prayer. Holy Spirit guide us in everything we do that glorifies God, and keep us focused on being faithful to Him.