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12 January 2008

My Cat is Useless for Illustrations

I always prefer to use real-world illustrations in the things I write here, and I've been wishing my cat would do something profound so that I could spin that into some sort of analogy. But doing so would potentially alienate the half of you who probably can't stand cats (plus, the cat doesn't seem to be too good at doing profound things). I'll work on it and see what I can come up with, though.

Lately I've been talking with a few people about the importance of prayer. I realize that nothing that I write here can really motivate you to do something that you've not set your mind to do. That's why illustrations usually work so well -- executed correctly, they can make us think about things and situations in ways that we haven't before. (I'm avoiding use of the well-known-from-sermons analogy that a marriage in which the husband and wife don't speak is one in which their affection for one another will probably not grow. )

So, I want to simply and directly let you know (or remind you) that sincere, diligent prayer is an absolutely necessary part of life for the Christ-follower.

Come and listen, all you who fear God,
     and I will tell you what he did for me.
For I cried out to him for help,
     praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
     the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen!
     He paid attention to my prayer.
Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
     or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
(Psalm 66:16-20, NLT)

As it is with our whole life -- the things that we think on, do, and say -- when we make the decision to follow Christ, being diligent about prayer will require an act of our will and most likely an adjustment to our lifestyle. For my part, I've found that prayer is not a practice that I can neatly plug into "business as usual."

To close with a question that will certainly not apply to everyone reading this, but will likely apply to some (and as such isn't accusatory), why do you not pray?


Pam M said...

Dean, I think an underlying reason that most people have in not praying, is that deep down their theology tells them it's already been "predestined" of the outcome and so what's the point? About 17 years ago I read the Frank Peretti books ( Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness)and that really lit a fire under me of the importance of prayer. Another factor in prayer I believe is the trust in God's character. I know people don't often meditate on the character of God but as Christians we need to. Are our petitions always answered the way we want them to be? NO, but they are answered in the best way for us. God has a much bigger picture of the puzzle than I do of my little puzzle piece. As parents dont we want to give our children blessings? Is it the best thing in the long run to do so? My husband and I often tell our children no about something because we have other information that the kids are unaware of. It all comes down to trust. Do we as Christ followers TRUST that God has our best interest in mind? Even if we do not see the bigger picture? I've enjoyed reading your blog and was lead to it by our mutual friend Preston :)

Blessings to you and your family this year.

Dean Lusk said...

Thanks, Pam!

First, I am, indeed, praying for you, and so are a number of others, thanks to Preston.

Second, very good insights in your comments. Whether or not people find that they have this underlying theology and it influences their prayer life, from experience, I look back and see that the reason I rarely prayed in the past was because I was lazy, rooted in the fact that I really didn't take my "commitment" to Christ seriously. I tried to make my Christianity a compartmentalized portion of my life, and it just doesn't work like that.

Again, I don't say this in an accusatory fashion toward anyone, but I speak from my own experiences.

One of the reasons that the elusive "peace" which Christ-followers speak of is often lost (or is never found) because we lack those times of regular personal communion with our Creator.

Tony M said...

"I tried to make my Christianity a compartmentalized portion of my life, and it just doesn't work like that."

I recently said nearly the same thing here:

"regular life" really doesn't exist for a Christian - there is no separation of our "Christian life" and our "regular life" - it's all the same, and trying to make a distinction between the two is a mistake that needs to be addressed.

Various scriptures emphasize the importance of "praying continually" - that is, always being in an attitude of communication with God, listening (and speaking as necessary). But this isn't license to avoid the specific times of prayer ("when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father" - Matt. 6:6).

You know, I'm not really sure where I'm heading with this comment, so I'll leave it to the next commenter to pull all this together or in one direction or another.

Anonymous said...

Christy said... During the times when I have failed to pray I believe it's mainly b/c of complacency. When things are seemingly going on w/o a hitch I'm less likely to pray. However, the older I get (no comments) the more I realize the importance of prayer. I am much more diligent in my prayer life. I have been witness to way too many miracles as a result of prayer to stop now. Praise God!

Tony M said...

As Christy said (assuming I read that last comment correctly), we (ok, I) find that too often adversity brings a greatly improved prayer life. Not that there's anything wrong with praying fervently in times of need, just that there is something wrong with not praying fervently in times of no need. Hey, actually, when do we ever really live in times of no need? We're always relying on God for something, aren't we, whether it's major, like a kidney transplant (which has happened recently, hence the first thought of this as an illustration), or minor, like breakfast (I'm a bit hungry, hence the illustration) or just to have a good day today (I have to go to work, hence the illustration :). The funny thing: if I'd been praying continually all along, I probably wouldn't be in such a panic when adversity hits! I'd just keep on praying, bolstered by the fact that God's really, actually in control, even when whatever-just-happened happened, and my faith would probably seem more, um, real, I suppose.

[on a completely unrelated note, perhaps you can learn to talk to your cat or even teach it to do tricks to impress people and/or for your blog :) - feel free to delete this comment if you want, just copy the relevant part and e-mail it back to me so I can recomment it]

Amanda said...

If you decide to take Tony's advice and learn how to talk to your cat. Can you take video????

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