by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor
Note: In keeping with the father-to-son flow of the Book of Proverbs, the devotions this week come from Musings of a Prodigal Father, which I wrote for my son Luke upon graduation from high school in the late 90s.
“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” - Proverbs 15:8
From Musings of a Prodigal Father:
Prayer is life. Really. Every word, every thought, every act of service for others is for the believer a prayer to God. In prayer we offer the heavenly Father our heart & soul. We may verbalize these prayers consciously or, better, offer them unconsciously, often with hands and feet. My personal goal is to get to the place where my life with God is a running dialogue. I am far from that place, but it really is what I desire. Brother Lawrence spoke of “practicing the presence” of God. Charles Sheldon asked us, “What would Jesus do?” These approaches to the Christian life put the believer in a position to maintain this godly dialogue, to hear God’s voice, his answers.
The greatest benefit of the life of prayer is that it creates a large awareness of just how dependent we creatures really are. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about my enormous needs for acceptance, forgiveness, and love. All of this means that I cannot possibly get along in this life all alone. Should friends forsake and enemies pursue – and they will – I can and will always depend upon Someone greater than I. Every breath that I take, every beat of my heart, every song in my soul and word from my lips – all of these depend upon the provision of our great God, Luke. If ever I lose this critical connection, I think all is lost. This is precisely where modern man has erred so tragically. In the technological rush, the constant pursuit for entertainment, and the quest for better jobs and more money, he has exchanged the quiet center – his soul – for lesser things. It is his own “chasing after the wind,” as Solomon used to put it.
Worse yet, modern man thinks he’s in control via money, sex, and power. But in truth these have become gods. Question is, do you or I or anyone really want to worship money, or sex, or power? Pretty shaky gods, I’d say. If a person chooses to worship such things, when they run out – and they will, in every case – what then? What’s left? To depend upon God Almighty is to depend upon the One whose riches and gifts are inexhaustible.
All I am saying here is that prayer is the act of learning to be held by God, to depend on Him, consciously and unconsciously, for all things. It is an act of the will and of discipline. But it will in time, I tell you, become a great conversation, the greatest of your life.
You must work at it. Find a reliable prayer partner, choose a regular place, pray the great prayers of the Bible (Philippians 1, Nehemiah 9, John 17, and others), and read the great people of prayer (E. M. Bounds, Eugene Peterson, John Baillie, and others). Make this your life’s ambition, Luke, and you will live and breathe God.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening and longing for your loving attention. A thousand voices clamor for an audience, any audience, but ultimately all I ever really needed was your voice. So please, as you speak, help me to respond as one submitted, cooperating, and poised to follow. Your will be done on earth, in me, as it is forever being done in heaven. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.