Are you looking for a who or a what?

Along with my One Year Bible, I also like to read My Utmost for His Highest each day, which is a collection of writings by Oswald Chambers. (By the way, if you like to read biographies, his is really worth reading – Abandoned to God.) My particular copy of Utmost has lined margins so that I can journal different thoughts or events that might relate to the subject of the day. As I was reading today’s thoughts, I kept glancing back at yesterday — it was on prayer.

Prayer is so often misuderstood. Have you ever heard the saying, “I believe in the power of prayer.”? I think that would be a little like saying, “I believe in the power of the telephone.” Let me explain. Suppose you were stranded on a dark and lonely stretch of road with a flat tire and you used your phone to call for help. When your spouse, parent, friend, or towing service came and fixed your car, would you hold up your phone admiringly and say, “I believe in the power of this phone. It fixed my car.” No, probably not. You would be thankful for the phone which allowed you to contact the person who actually came to your rescue, but you would give credit and express appreciation to the person, not the phone. That is why I don’t like the phrase, “I believe in the power of prayer.” Prayer is the means God has given us to communicate with Him, but we sometimes worship “prayer” rather than the God Who answers.

So, that brings me back to Oswald Chambers. In yesterday’s excerpt, he is talking about disappointment in prayer and he states that sometimes we “demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Who gives the answer.” He goes on to say, “The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.” The scripture passage he references is in Luke 24:21 where some disciples are explaining their disappointment that God had not fulfilled what they believed He had promised. This little vignette is full of irony — give it a read — but start back in verse 13. The people in this story missed the Who, looking for the what.

One Comment

  • Mindy says:

    Good point Mary Alice! While reading the daily word from Odyseey O8′, I find David psalms to match the action of just having God to listen to his “problems.” I first thought it was funny how similar David’s prayers are so repetitive, but my mother soon reminded me that we all have some repetition within our prayers.

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