“Prayer is a relationship, not an activity.” That is how Blackaby opened our fourth week of the study. He went on to talk about Jesus’ model prayer and why He chose “Our Father” to open the prayer.
In using “our”, Blackaby asserts that we should always pray with our brothers and sisters in mind when we pray. “Father” indicates the personal nature of prayer, rather than using the more formal title of Lord or God.
He also used an example that we’ve all seen and heard because it is so universally understood. His example was in the form of a question, “Have you ever had a conversation where you wanted to say something, to tell the other person what was on your mind or to respond to something that the other person said but couldn’t because they wouldn’t stop talking?”
Yep! I surely have. I think everyone in the world can understand that one. The point is that if I am going to pray, I have to give God a chance to respond and speak. If all I do is talk about myself, my wants, my needs, my desires, He will not have an opportunity to talk to me.
“Every prayer recorded in the Bible is personal, specific and powerful.” After this sentence, he said that we must never let our prayer life deteriorate to the point of ineffective religion, as illustrated by Isaiah 1:10-17.
10 “Listen to my Message,
you Sodom-schooled leaders.
Receive God’s revelation,
you Gomorrah-schooled people.
11â€“12 “Why this frenzy of sacrifices?”
“Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don’t you think I’ve had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and thatâ€”
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?
13â€“17 “Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetingsâ€”
meetings, meetings, meetingsâ€”I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.
Once again, I come upon the message to do rather than contemplate. Although I like The Message translation at times for reading, as above, I like the NET translation of verse 17.
1:17 Learn to do what is right!
Give the oppressed reason to celebrate!ï»¿
Take up the cause of the orphan!
Defend the rights of the widow!ï»¿
As part of the evangelical wing of Christianity, I often hear and often say that it is more important to spread the Good News than it is to do that which God says in verse 17. I really need to reevaluate my thinking about that.
Rather than speaking about Jesus, I need to live as Jesus. Rather than, as in The Message translation above, going to meeting after meeting, I need to do that which is in verse 17.