What really puzzles me about prayer

A mentor of mine used to preach a sermon called, “One More Night With The Frogs”. I found out later that he wasn’t the only preacher to notice the strange case of Pharaoh’s placid acceptance of spending another night with the hopping hoards.

You see, the famous plagues in Egypt, brought on by Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Jews leave and worship Jehovah, had included an infestation of frogs so vile that the creatures flooded into houses, beds, kitchens and  food supplies. Life came to a miserable halt, and when Pharaoh’s magicians tried to impress Moses by creating more of the hoppers, they added to the misery – more frogs!

At that point, Pharaoh pleaded with Moses to pray to Jehovah and have Him remove the pests. Moses said, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray… that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs…” (See Exodus 8:9).

“‘Tomorrow,’ Pharaoh said.”

Tomorrow? Tomorrow! Why on earth would he say tomorrow? Why not right away? That really puzzles me.

Like the conversation I had with a relative who had built water wells for impoverished villages in a third world country. He said his crew would dig the wells and pipe the water above ground to a small hand-operated pump so the whole village could come and get clean water. But he also said his crew would return a few years later and find the whole thing neglected and in disrepair. The villagers wouldn’t even perform simple maintenance tasks to keep the water flowing. That really puzzles me.

It reminds me of the reaction Jesus got in his own home town. Although he worked miracles and taught with great authority and power, the locals who grew up with him were offended at his succeses. Because of that, “He could not do any miracles there… And he was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:1-6 NIV).

The Messiah, the Savior of the World lives in your home town… and gets a big yawn. That puzzles me.

So, what really puzzles me about prayer? The same thing.

If we really believe that prayer is worthwhile, that its vibrations reach the throne of God, that it changes people and circumstances, that it’s the most powerful force given to man on this earth… then why is it so hard to pray?

Why do most of us (preaching to myself here, also) neglect this astounding power? Why do we go days and days without any real praying? Why do so many other activities come first? Why, when in a group of believers, do we cringe when someone says, “Let’s pray about it right now.”?

Why is our appetite for prayer so weak, so easily appeased? I’m not sure. But I lament the fact… and it puzzles me.

In R.T. Kendall’s new book, Did You Think To Pray?, he quotes a survey done of British and American church leaders questioning them about how much time they spent in prayer daily. The average church leader admitted to praying only four or five minutes a day.

Does that puzzle you? Why is it so hard to devote the time to prayer that it deserves… that God deserves?

Got any answers? Any suggestions? Let me hear your comments…

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