Recognizing Heartfelt Prayer
I think something’s wrong with how many of God’s people and churches are looking at prayer. The problem is we’ve allowed prayer to become tame, safe—sometimes passionless, heartless, and even boring. I feel we’ve allowed it to become this way because of our own lack of personal experience passionately seeking Jesus’ face in the prayer closet. So, we don’t know about fervent prayer. We don’t practice calling upon God from deep within our hearts and, unfortunately, we don’t actually want other people doing that.
Or, there’s the opposite extreme. We hear about a prayer meeting somewhere that has gone outside of biblical “guidelines” and it’s characterized as crazy and weird. Some people blame it on the Holy Spirit; so then we don’t want that kind of prayer either—because that’s excessive.
We look at the two extremes and it’s easy to just reel it all in, take control, and let prayer die a slow death. We become stagnant and comfortable with a boring, tame and heartless prayer life because of our own lack of experience in impassioned prayer as well as our own fear of excess.
I fear that we’ve become like Eli the priest who was so unfamiliar with desperate, intimate, and passionate prayer that when he saw young Hannah praying, begging God after years of barrenness to give her a child, he accused her of being drunk.
1 Samuel 1:9–19 shows us a woman who made a decision to face her problem head on with prayer. She’s lying in the Tabernacle by the altar crying out to God with a sorrowful spirit and with a broken heart. Her lips moved but no sound came out. She was muttering or mumbling in broken desperation, and intimate communion with God when Eli the priest watches her and began to create his own opinion of her. He doesn’t recognize this intimate prayer—and he’s the priest! It’s foreign to him. He sees her, he rebukes her, and he condemns her.
Friends, we are in trouble when our priests, our prophets and our preachers can’t recognize desperate, passionate, and intensely intimate prayer. The church is in trouble when it looks at desperate people who know what it is to cry out to God in sincerity of heart, and misunderstands it.
There needs to be a shift in our hearts. We need to get out of our comfort zone and take a hard look at prayer. We need to be a lot more like Hannah, than Eli. We need to practice fervent, faithful, and heart-felt prayer. Church culture and being afraid or paralyzed in our asking can’t tame us. We need to boldly bring our requests to Him, praying earnestly. We must pray as the Scripture instructs us.
Are you with me? Are you ready to become a House of Prayer?