Tabernacle United Methodist Church
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Our Purpose: To build the Body of Christ by growing mature disciples through: Prayer, Worship, Evangelism, Fellowship, Study, and Christian Service.
Prayer as a Pillar
by Teresa Crisafulli
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells the story of two men who went to the temple to pray. One of the men was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, who was standing by himself, prayed, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income." The tax collector, who was standing even further away, would not even look up to heaven. He was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" Jesus said to the Disciples, "I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted." The first man's prayer wasn't a plea but a performance. Instead of applauding from the front row, God was sitting on the back row listening to the whispers of the humbled man who prayed with his heart on his sleeve.
The first time I prayed an honest and humble prayer was some 30+ years ago. My husband David had been diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease and had been sent to MCV Hospital for an angioplasty procedure. During the procedure and shortly afterwards, things seemed to be going as planned. Then suddenly I was given the word that David had experienced a heart attack and immediate open heart surgery was needed to save his life. That moment I fell to my knees. I pleaded with God to save my husband. I cried out one of the most honest prayers I had ever prayed. In that moment, I was totally focused on God. I wasn't worried about how I chose to address God. I had no desire to be heard by anyone other than God, and God spoke.
He showed me how I was failing David as his wife and how I was failing Him (God) as one of his children. In the days ahead, He presented me with ways that I could show my love for David and Him by the way I took care of David, encouraged him, and stood by him through all that he faced with his disease. I discovered that my prayers were not there to influence God but to allow Him to influence me in the choices I made and the daily walk that I took with Him and with David by my side.
I found that often I filled the air with empty words, padded cliches, and self-righteous babble, convinced that God was impressed with me. In truth, what God was and is really listening to, is my heart. A humble, honest and heartfelt prayer never falls on deaf ears. Indeed, this is the kind of prayer God answers.
A well-crafted prayer is worthless when your words don't match your heart.