PRAYER with Exclamation Points
I love to pray. Prayer is that wonderful convergence of urgency, love, raw emotion, transparency and faith wrapped in bundled communication with God. I know that prayer is communication. But, too much of it is tepid. I know. I have prayed that way. I have heard others pray that way.
There are far too many commas and semi-colons and simple periods in prayer when I come to think of it and when I listen to others praying. I don’t think it was meant to be that way. David’s Psalms are not so dispassionate. That is not what I see when I read the prayers of those in the Bible- Jehoshaphat, Daniel, most of the minor prophets, Jeremiah and of course Ezekiel. With these, there is much more energy and emotion in their prayers than is commonly heard today. There prayers are filled exclamations and questions, if not literally at least figuratively. Most certainly, there are simple sentences involved. But, many of those would seem to read better if they were in full caps or in some staccato single word sentences. Some of the prayers may not be brief. But, what they may lack in brevity, they make up in unrelenting passion and intensity (cf. Ezra 9; Daniel 9; Psalm 27 etc.).
Very few public prayers in the Old and New Testaments seem as disinterested and benign as many that I hear today in public settings. If our communication is as urgent as it should be, then our voice and fervor should match the urgency. The woman who grabbed at Jesus’ garment and the thankfully healed Samaritan who threw himself at Jesus’ feet and blind Bartimaeus who shouted at the top of his lungs to gain Jesus’ attention, were among the many who saw any subsequent communication with Jesus as simply a bonus to their clamor for his touch. When we are so eager to seek the touch of God, it generally bleeds through in our words.
We generally offer more reference to traditional postures of prayer (kneeling, prostrate, lifting our eyes and hands, etc.) in our songs than in our real prayer expressions. It is time we pray more on our literal knees and with more exclamation points and passion and less visible disinterest. The world needs God. God seeks true worshippers who worship in Sprit and truth. I don’t think either the truth or the Spirit ever come across as blasé. Neither should the voice of true worshippers. I, for one, am willing to suffer the indignity of David, dancing before the ark, to express the unquenchable joy of Jesus Christ. It is not that the world needs to see it. We simply need to express it and let the world see the results of answered prayer. John Wesley said that when people are lit on fire by the Holy Spirit, people come from miles to watch them burn. Perhaps that is what we need in these days of protocol and calm- an attractive fire.