Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015 “Babies and Brooks”

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words…This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.'”  (Matthew 6:7, 9)

Good Morning and a Blessed Lord’s Day Everyone!

One of my favorite places to relax is by the edge of a babbling brook. I love the sound of the water as it cascades along over the rocks, bubbling and splashing along on it’s eventual journey to some other stream or river that will eventually deposit its flow in one of the vast oceans where the cycle concludes and begins once again. But as fond as I am of the sound of a babbling brook, it is clear from this teaching in Matthew’s gospel that the Lord does not share the same admiration for “babbling” as it relates to praying as I do to the sound of the rushing water. Oh, the words, like the sound of the water, that are expressed in such “praying” , may sound compelling, and perhaps even pious to one listening to them. But to the attuned ears of the Lord, when they are uttered without understanding regarding the nature and holiness of God, they are little more than nonsensical babbling. Incessant and irritating, they accomplish nothing, because the reasoning behind them is all wrong according to Jesus. The thinking is along the lines of “I will say to God what I think he wants me to say, and I will say it forcefully, compellingly, and expansively. I will make sure he knows I am here talking with him, while at the same time impressing others with my devotion.”

Jesus taught this lesson as this very attitude of prayer was on public display before the temple, being practiced by the respected religious leaders of the community. They were on display praying more for the show and much less so for the glory of God.  Jesus then instructs his followers and us to approach the Throne of Grace with reverence and humility, recognizing above all the holiness of God. We need not pray to impress God. We pray because God is already impressive in and of Himself and is deserving of our humble devotion, our praise, our confession, and our thanksgiving. We pray because He is our source, our stronghold, and our sure deliverer. We do not pray to bend his will towards our will, but that our hearts might submit to His will. Theologian R.C. Sproul said this of prayer:

“The sovereign God cannot be manipulated, for He knows the hearts of all who pray to Him. True prayer presupposes an attitude of humble submission and adoration to the Almighty God.” 

If you want to listen to babbling, spend more time around babies and brooks. When you pray, however, remember that God doesn’t really care for babbling, When you pray, say, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.”  Let’s pray!

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

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