What Are Our Attitudes About Prayer?

lincoln.jpgQuotes often soothe the troubled heart. We emblazon them on shirts, teacups, posters and on all manner of items so their wisdom can enlighten or remind of us of our purposes in life. These pithy sayings fall from our lips with ease in times of strain and loss. Yet, do we examine them for logic and truth?
For years, cars displayed bumper stickers proclaiming that God was their “Co-Pilot.” In time, this adage began to be questioned, and rightly so. It is cute but will lead to spiritual ruin. If God is our co-pilot then we had better give God the wheel immediately!
Sadly, too many do want God to be their co-pilot so they can be in charge and have God at their sides awaiting their summons. Yet, this is far removed from the teachings of Christ (Mark 8:34-38). If God is not in charge of our lives then Satan sits atop the throne of our hearts and will lead us to hell (1 Peter 5:8; John 8:44).
When preaching on prayer this writer has used a quote from Abraham Lincoln as an example of man’s wisdom concerning the value of prayer. President Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.”
With the context of this quote and the late President’s intentions notwithstanding, some important points can be made. Lincoln’s thoughts match those of far too many people, but not to their spiritual benefit. Meditation on the ideas expressed by our fallen President stands in contrast to praying, “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV).
Lincoln writes, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” Turning to prayer “many times” seems commendable. Realizing that we have “nowhere else to go” but to God is wonderful. Yet, we lift the curtain and see that the seams are unraveling.
If we will pray without ceasing, we will have a perpetual willingness to approach God with our petitions, supplications and thanksgivings. Prayer is our constant companion rather than a last hope.
Instead of the constant communing with God in prayer, we wait until we have “nowhere else to go” before we turn to God. If we only turn to God in these arduous times, then we will never grasp the true blessings of sanctification. Likewise, if we “many times” have an “overwhelming conviction” that we must go to God in prayer then we have missed the point completely. He demands that we turn to him and need him all the time, not only when we are out of answers.
Another equally shallow adage comes to mind when considering this point. It says, “When all else fails, try prayer.” How absurd. God is not to be the last resort but the only hope!
Lincoln writes, “My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” If we remember this quote began with “many times,” we see the downfall of his “wisdom.” When neither he nor his advisors had answers, he would turn to God. Once again, when answers seemed elusive, it was time to consult Jehovah.
God is infinite in wisdom and perfect in knowledge (Psalm 47:5; Job 37:16). We never know better than God does nor should we ever seek our wisdom over his. Therefore, we must always remain connected to the greatest and wisest of all. Where else could we go? (John 6:68).

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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