I have a quick question.
Let's say that after church I want to rush home and watch some afternoon football. But first I'll stop in downtown Lawrence to pick up a Chipotle burrito for a carry out lunch (probably a grilled chicken with sour cream and cheese).
Now the question. As I rush downtown, do I pray for a parking place?
If we say yes to the question, that would be selfish and self-absorbed. It would be like making God our personal genie, whose main duty is to make our life easy.
But hold on a minute. Do we really want to say no? Do we actually want to say to a holy God that we don't need His help? Is this not the primordial sin of self-exaltation and independence from God? And if that isn't bad enough, what if we think God is too busy to listen to our dinky supplication? Or that maybe He doesn't care? Those thoughts blaspheme the character of God.
So do we pray?
So much for a quick question.
Paul wrote to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17), and just as it was important to the Thessalonians, so too is it important to us. Prayer shows us what we are, finite and needy, and if we give any thought to the matter, self-focused and sinful. Prayer also shows us what God is, sovereign, infinite, and holy. In prayer we acknowledge our dependence upon God. But more importantly, ceaseless prayer keeps us before the throne of grace, before the face of God, where we are forced to decide whether we want our will to be done, or His.
So pray for a parking place? Well if I'm praying without ceasing, my prayers have begun long before I reach Chipotle. But what if I haven't been in prayer and am now confronted with the need for a parking place? I vote to pray, to consciously place myself before the face of God. For what an excellent time to begin the practice of ceaseless prayer. After all, downtown Lawrence can be messy, just as life.
Originally posted February 2014