I took this picture yesterday when I was dusting the floor behind our computers. When you look at it you probably see a tangled mess of wires. When I look at it I see a perfect illustration of my prayer life.
Maybe I’d better explain. You see, years ago in one of my Bible studies I learned to pray by using the ACTS method, which means you approach prayer in this order: First, Adoration, next, Confession, then Thanksgiving and finally, Supplication (which is a polite term for requests, concerns, and – dare I say it? – desires.) It’s an excellent tool. Unfortunately I’m not very good at it. For one thing I tend to race through the first three parts like I'm in some kind of Evelyn Wood speed-praying competition because admittedly what I’m really interested in is the supplication part. But then, oddly enough, once I finally get to that one, everything just seems to go haywire.
For some reason I just have a really hard time staying focused. I’ve got all these people and things that I want to talk to God about, which would be fine if I would stick to the issues, but I don’t. Instead I get all balled up in the particulars and before long my mind has meandered hither and yon, up hill and down, until I’ve completely lost my train of thought altogether.
For example, say I’ve been really concerned about a friend’s daughter and the choices she’s making as a young adult. I could simply lift her up to the Lord and trust Him to know how to handle her circumstance. But do I do that? No. I start out by giving Him the complete, unabridged recap of her entire background (as if He somehow missed the first season, and needs to be brought up to speed.) Patiently and in great detail I describe how certain incidents that occurred back when she was in high school should have been handled differently. Then I climb on my soapbox about parents allowing their kids to attend all-night parties, and that leads me to a tirade about showing too much cleavage (which always looks worse on fat women than on thin ones) and that launches me into a huge guilt session about my recent weight gain, which isn’t my fault because it’s too hot to exercise outdoors, but I can’t get a decent workout channel on TV because our stupid condo association won’t allow us to mount satellite dishes on the building, and that reminds me that I haven’t paid this month’s condo dues, which causes me to start thinking about whether or not to update my version of Quicken…
Somehow I don’t think this is what God had in mind when He said, "Pray without ceasing.” (I Thes. 5:17). Prayer is worship. Prayer is communion. Prayer is fellowship. Prayer serves a purpose. Which brings me back to the photograph. If you’re familiar with this kind of stuff, you know that each and every one of those wires connects something important with something else important – as in computer to printer, hard drive to speaker, phone line to Internet, router to laptop, surge protector to everything! It’s an ugly mess back there but it does serve a purpose. Yank out a wire and you disconnect something you really need from its source of power. The same is true about prayer. Your communication with God may be flighty, circuitous (I love that word) disjointed, and at times even nonsensical, but it does serve a purpose. Stop praying and you disconnect yourself from your one true source of power – God Himself. If you think about it, the whole thing’s pretty miraculous. And speaking of miraculous, that’s the exact same word my husband used when he found out I’d dusted the floor behind our computers. Now doesn’t that make you want to yank out one of his wires?
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6.7)