Tuesday, July 19, 2016

EMOTION-LESS PRAYER





We tend to believe that when we pray without emotion, even detachment, our prayers will fail to reach God. Even if they do reach God, we are convinced that He will not be pleased with them.

I felt this way this morning. I awoke to a violent attack of vertigo, profuse sweating,
and, of course, nausea. The EMT took me to the local hospital.

Even worse, it felt as if God had abandoned me. Why? My prayers felt artificial and faithless, and God seemed uninterested in my vertigo. I became deeply distressed by this.

Later that day, after the hospital had discharged me, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, fictitious exchanges between the head demon and his demonic subordinate, Wormwood.

Wormwood had been boasting to Screwtape about a Christian he had demoralized to the point where he experienced no excitement or zeal for the Lord. However, Screwtape was not impressed:

·       "Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."

That's the way I had been feeling - demoralized. However, my friend reminded me that the Psalmists had also been so demoralized that they would have to give themselves a faith pep talk:

·       “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalms 43:5; ESV)

·       “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?...But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.” (Psalms 13:1-2, 6)

Sometimes, they would remind themselves of the past faithfulness of God:

·       "Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?...I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Psalms 77:8-9, 12)

Often our feelings do not comply with our prayers. Instead, we too are to remember His faithfulness.

Meanwhile, passion in prayer can be over-rated. The priests of Baal tried to prevail over Elijah's God even to the point of cutting themselves, but it was all for naught.

Don't be concerned about a lack of passion in your prayers. Just persevere in faith and obedience.

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