Thursday, December 28, 2017
During my many years in the pastoral ministry, I have learned a lot, not only from the Word of God, but by personal experience and also from our church members. As a result, I am quite different than I was at the start and now do things differently than before. I did one thing in my early days I’m pretty sure I won’t do again. I am referring to this: One Sunday, after the worship service, I approached one of our faithful members to ask him why I never saw him pray at the altar. His reply was : “Because I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Back then, I knew a little bit less then than I know now, but I knew enough to know that this brother’s concept of prayer was way off. From him, however, I learned that a lot of church folks have basically the same mindset. They have this erroneous belief that those who go pray at the altar at the time of the invitation are there to ask God to forgive them because “they did something wrong.” I suspect that, because of it, they will never join the others at the altar for fear that they too will be suspected of having done something wrong. To be fair, there may be people at the altar asking God to forgive them but that is just one of many, many reasons to go pray. Permit me to list a few.
People pray for themselves as well as for a specific family member, loved one, or friend. The nature of their petition may be physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual. Stevie Wonder many years ago wrote a song which perhaps, just by itself alone, would have been enough to make him a millionaire. It was titled: “I Just Called To Say I Love You.” It has never occurred to many folks that among those who are gathered around the church altar, there may always be one or two who just came up to tell the Lord “I love you.” After all, Paul once wrote: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) I trust you could see that in this sage advice, Paul included these following reasons people pray: (1) things or situations which trouble or worry us. (2) Supplication: specific urgent prayer petitions (3) Just to thank or praise God for His goodness (4) anything and everything. To the point of boring them, I often tell our church members: “If it is important to you, it is important to God.” As you can see, God’s children will always have many reasons to pray. As far as reasons for not praying are concerned, I can’t think of a single one. For us, praying is not only a great benefit, it is a privilege as well. Are you taking advantage of it?
God’s word for today: (Hebrews 4:16) “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”