For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This is an excerpt from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
God has brought it to my attention that I am a “crisis pray-er.” That’s a person who does their most intense, praying-it-through sessions with God only when they are in a crisis. Too often, I seek God in my needs, and not simply to be with Him and enjoy Him. This type of prayer seeks THINGS from God instead of seeking God.
A crisis pray-er. Okay, that stings. I may not have liked it, but I knew God was right. I was a man who often found time to sit quietly with God only when I thought I was in need of something. Those “needs,” real or unreal, made up the substance of my prayers, which I took to God in search of a quick fix or a timely solution. I was not spending time with the Lord God Almighty because I felt He was such good company, or because I longed to bask in His presence in worship, or because I understood the privilege we have as Christians to boldly approach God’s throne, or because I desired to learn from His infinite wisdom the course my life should take. No, I sought God only because I saw Him as a heavenly fix-it man, there for me when I needed a repair. Other than that, I was good on my own.
Because God desires to maintain a relationship with His people, I believe that one of the ways God fixes crisis pray-ers like me is to withhold His answers. Some Christians use the phrase “in Jesus name” as the religious equivalent of “Abracadabra,” thinking it is some type of magic formula for getting what we want from God. We cannot use prayer to manipulate the Lord into supplying our selfish wants at the expense of the relationship we really need. Therefore, if the only time we go to God is when we have a need, then God will provide us with plenty of needs so that we will learn to seek Him first. God wants to teach us about communication and relationship, and instill in us the understanding that God meets our needs when we first seek Him for WHO He is, not for WHAT He can provide. As Matt. 6:33 says,
“Steep your life in God- reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met” (The Message).
I’m tired of suggesting to God the different ways He can accomplish my agenda.
Jim – This obviously resonates with what I wrote this morning, and I would like to read your book. I was raised in an Assembly of God home, and while I now attend an ELCA church, there are things from my A/G upbringing that still influence my life dramatically.
I’m glad it spoke to you, and I’d be honored if you’d read my book. I left the A/G in 1994 and now have credentials with the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. Since I was saved in a Baptist church, baptized in a Foursquare church and spend four years in a monastic community, whenever someone asks me my denomination, I put them all together and say I’m a Bapticostalic! Actually, I like to say I’m a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. I’d be interested in your opinion of my book. And thank you.