I hate spam. For me, it’s not that it clutters my inbox. Getting more email makes me feel important. It’s also not because they’re advertising a product. As long as it’s something I like, it doesn’t really bother me. I think the reason I hate spam is because it’s so impersonal and repetitive. Blog spam is the best in this regard. It’s so general and vague and usually refers to how great your post was in the most obtuse way possible (not to mention the horrible grammar). In reality the approach of the spammer is almost insulting.
I’ve been thinking over the last month or so that maybe my prayers are sort of like spam too. What I mean is that I think I’ve been too careless, too repetitive, too casual, and too impersonal in my prayers. I guess it’s a bit of a challenge. I know that the Holy Spirit takes my sloppy, selfish prayers and cleans them up and prays them for me (Rom. 8:26-27). I know that Jesus pleads my case before God the Father when I pray (1 Tim. 2:5). I know that the prayer of the instant necessity, like the woman who cried out “Lord, help me” (Matt. 15:25), is just as welcomed as the prayer of long contemplation.
All this makes sense to me, but I also remember the words of Jesus when He spoke of not being empty or repetitive in our prayers (Matt. 6:7) and this urges me to consider the worth of my thoughtless lunch prayers and little meeting-closing prayers. Do I weigh the words as if they are being delivered before the throne of the Almighty? Clearly the disciples felt that this was a matter of enough import to ask Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). They were humble enough to realize that they had sloppy prayer lives and needed help (I suppose spending a few years with the Messiah would do this to me as well), but I think I may not be as aware as my problem in this area as the disciples were.
For quite some time I’ve questioned the use of written prayers. Often these prayers, when read aloud, seem stiff and impersonal too, but part of me is beginning to think that maybe the thought, the intentionality behind them is more of something like a five-course meal than the little fast food prayers I often offer over my lunch. This year I’m going to spend more time writing out prayers driven from the text of Scripture in order to course-correct in this area. Instead of spamming God, I’m going to start writing Him some meaningful communication.
God why do You put up with such a major screw-up like me? I’m half-hearted, at best, flirting with shadows and dim lights. I’m distracted by so little when I’m offered so much. Like a millionaire who lives on $100 a week and like an idiot who’s trying to surf the web on a smartphone when he’s sitting in front of his computer, I keep chasing lesser things. But I tend not to think of them in such a way. The pleasures of life, love, wealth, wisdom, pride, and power seem so endearing and awesome when they trap my gaze. For a moment now, You have broken my gaze. You have shifted my eyes to Yourself and I cannot take them off You. Oh that I might always keep my focus on You!
Disenchant me from my affection for lesser things.
Redirect me from my reckless ambition.
Break me from my idolatry.
Free me from my passion for myself.
Enflame me with a passion for the Gospel.
Reclaim the center of my soul.
Focus my life recklessly upon Yourself.
Capture my affection eternally and fill the eternal emptiness within me!
I’ve been thinking a lot about this song lately and I wanted to share a personal testimony from the song that we often sing without thought or consideration. I will quote the song in poetry and then paraphrase the meaning below each stanza.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Master of my inner-most being, let my spiritual eyes be focused clearly on You.
Do not let anything else mean anything to me except You.
I want You to be that which thrills my mind all day and all night.
When I rise and when I sleep, let Your presence, like the sun, light my path.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Lord, You are my wisdom and my living Word
I will live with You forever and you will be with me too.
You are my father and I am Your son.
You live in me and I live in You.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
I will not pay attention to money or acclaim
You mean more to me than anything money can buy.
You and You alone have first place in my heart.
You are my King and my Treasure.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys,
O bright Heaven’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
As the King of Heaven, You have won the war for me.
On this basis I will see Heaven and the Son that lights it.
Because I desire You with the deepest part of my being, no matter what happens,
let my spiritual eyes be focused clearly on You, the King of my life.