MAKING PRAYER A HABIT REALLY WORKS
As Will Shakespeare said in his play Othello: "I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver."
This unvarnish'd tale is one that I have heard on numerous occasions. I have no idea if this is true or not. I appreciate the question and quandary of the judge. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
In a small Texas town construction was begun on a tavern. A number of the community frowned upon the thought of a honky-tonk opening in their church-going town. So the townspeople started a campaign to halt its construction. Some local churches had special prayer meetings to thwart the effort. They sent petitions opposing the opening.
The construction went right on until the week before its scheduled opening. A most unusual and unexpected thing happened: lightning struck the tavern and it burned completely to the ground.
This caused the smug and self-righteous elite of the churches to see it as a most fortunate event. But the smiles left their faces when the bar owner sued the churches on the grounds that the churches were ultimately responsible, directly or indirectly, for the destruction of his building.
In its reply to the court, the churches lawyers vehemently denied all responsibility for the tavern's demise.
In the county courthouse, the judge heard all the evidence, peered out over his glasses, looked both the tavern owner and the church leaders right in the eyes, paused and said, “I am in a quandary, and I’m not sure how I'm going to decide this case."
Then the judge said: "On the one hand, we have a bar owner that believes in the power of prayer, and, on the other hand, we have our church congregations that doesn't!"
Churches put a lot of stock in prayer. Many churches have regular mid-week gathering they call Prayer Meeting; when members share prayer requests and pray for the sick, their missionaries, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and even ask special guidance on government officials. (Too often prayer is considered "great" only if we get what we pray for.)
Prayer has been an important and basic part of religions all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs. (Save your opinions on dinosaurs and humans living at the same time. I know they did not.) Here are some opinions on prayer:
"Pray without ceasing" is good advice from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. It is a response from our heart with others in church services or when alone, anywhere. It is an attitude that reminds us how dependent we are -- from rising sun to setting sun -- and in the dark of night.
The great hymn writer and evangelist, John Wesley, is said to have spent two hours a day in prayer, said: "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer." S.D. Gordon wrote: "The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray."
"Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man/woman is powerful on their knees" (Corrie ten Boom, survivor of Nazi concentration camps).
Believe it or not, the prayer of a serious and sincere supplicant does not change God's mind or purposes, but it sure does steady the knees and embolden the heart of the one praying.
The practice of repeating the Bible verses commonly called "The Lord's Prayer" is fine, but living out the memorized words by actually hallowing God's name; recognizing God's kingdom; and forgiving others makes for a richer life.