Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving Eve Message - Dear God

Americans around the nation will celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow. Like most families, we will have our traditional meal. Part of the celebration is reflecting on the many blessings we have received. Of those blessings, there is one that I always am so thankful for. That blessing is the power of prayer and that God listens and responds to our prayers.

Prayer and the ability to go to the Father, for me, is so very important to all Christians. When we need wisdom or guidance in our lives, God is always there to listen and respond to our prayers. Some will say that God doesn’t listen to prayers or they didn’t get what they asked for. In my life, I have had times when I questioned God’s response to my prayers. However, I soon realized that God’s answer to my prayer was the best answer.
We often believe that we know better and that what we ask for in our prayers is the best solution. When the MegaMillions and PowerBall lotteries were near or over a billion dollars, I saw a lot of people praying over their lottery tickets. Each one asking for God’s blessing of a winning ticket. I listened to some of their prayers and they promised God that they would give Him their tithe or donate some money to a charity. It sort of reminded me of bribery or something akin to quid pro quo. All the prayers seemed to include “Oh Lord, please give the winning ticket and I will…”

God is not a vending machine for blessings. God listens to the prayers of all of His children and wisely answers them. I know that some of you feel that God should always save the lives of loved ones. I have been there twice in my life. 

When my dad passed away, my prayer was for God to save His life. I wasn’t really praying. I was demanding that He do that. I continued to beg for the miracle, but it didn’t happen. Dad passed away. It took a lot of time for me to return to God and to accept His will in my life. I learned a lot about myself.

The second time came when my mom was in the ICU. She had fought cancer for almost three years. I prayed for a miracle, but my prayer ended with “Your will be done.” When her life was coming to an end, I again not only asked for a miracle, but also asked that if His will was for her to go home, that she go peacefully. God answered my prayer. He called her home to be with Him and His son, Jesus. She went to sleep and that was it. She passed peacefully. 

Too often we find ourselves demanding rather than praying. The other thing that we need to understand is that God speaks to us during prayer. Sometimes, we just string a bunch of words together and never give God a chance to truly speak to us. Prayer is more than a series of words that we string together to reach God’s ear. It is time that we spend with Him listening.

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains what it means to pray, “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

When people go on and on in their prayers, it sounds like they are trying to impress others with their elocution and show that they can write great prayers. Those types of prayers remind me of a safecracker trying to find the right combination to open a safe. People will try to string together the right words to get God’s attention. 

As a child of God, you always have His attention. It’s not what or how you say it; it’s all about what’s in your heart. If you truly accept God’s will in your life, leave your life to Him. He will never steer you wrong. The other thing is to always realize that God’s will comes first. He knows what is best for you.

The most important thing is that we listen. We should listen to God. Remember when God called out to Samuel? We should respond exactly as he did, “Speak, your servant is listening.

Prayer is one of the most important things we can do as Christians. God listens to His children. That truth is certain. However, we need to realize that prayer is bidirectional. God speaks to us, and that, in and of itself, is a blessing to truly be thankful for. 

In Psalm One-Hundred Fifteen, the psalmist writes, “Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.
They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

Idols don’t hear prayers. We serve a living God who listens and responds to our prayers. Be thankful that God cares that much for you. He hears every prayer. Be thankful for the fact that God talks to us. Instead of going on and on, say the same thing that Samuel said and be silent. Listen to God speak to your heart. 

If you do this and accept His will in your life, you can rest assured that He hears your prayers. With that truth firmly planted in your heart, you can stand firm in His grace.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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