Praying with my hands in my pockets

October 27, 2011

Consider the following passages, and the manner in which the people approached Jesus.

 “On coming to the house, they saw the child and his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.”  Matt 2:11

“Suddenly Jesus met them.  “Greetings,” he said.  They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.”  Matthew 28:9

“Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”   Luke 24:52

“Then the man said, “Lord I believe,” and he worshipped him.”   John 9:38

Some time ago, I was praying with a team of people after a meeting.   We were standing in a circle, praying.  You know, “Every eye closed, every head down.

I peeked.

I opened my eyes and noticed that all the men in this circle had their hands in their pockets.  We were talking to our friend, God.

I’ve traveled a long way in my prayer life, but I’m not completely sure it has always been in the right
direction.  Growing up, I learned to pray on my knees.  I prayed to the God of the Most Holy Place.  We took being in his presence seriously.

In the Bible, people responded to Jesus with reverence and worship, even when he was just a little baby.  People fell to their knees; they clasped his feet and bowed before the Infant King.

Meanwhile, I stand around with my hands in my pocket.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I can now boldly enter the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) because of what Christ has done on my behalf.  Jesus calls us his friend repeatedly in John’s gospel.  And I am immensely grateful for those encouraging words.  But maybe sometimes I need a bigger view of God.  I need a God big enough to handle my problems, big enough to hear my prayers when a thousand, or maybe a million other prayers are being offered at the same moment.  I need someone who is wiser than I.  So there are times to take my hands out of my pocket, take off my shoes, and kneel, maybe even prostrate myself before the King.

So, even as I rejoice in a heavenly Father who invites me to sit on his lap, I realize I would learn more
sitting at his feet.  And I believe there are some habits I need to put back into practice that will help me keep in touch with the Magnificent I Am.  The results will be more empowered prayers, and a better hope.

Replace self with God at the center of our prayers.   We can get so self-centered that our      prayers become ineffective.  Worse, they can become selfish.  God wants us to bring our burdens to him because he cares for us.  But if my prayer is all about me, things get small in a hurry.  When we pray
to an Almighty God we will perhaps stop thinking about ourselves for a moment, start thinking about God.   And when he is our focus he will give us his heart.  Then we can and will be able to pray more effectively for others.

Replace  “Abba” with “Glorious One” at the beginning of our prayers from time to time.     If we purposefully start our prayers thinking about God’s greatness, the purpose of our prayer will fall properly into place.  Not only will God be where he belongs, we will be where we belong.   And our problems will be placed in the proper perspective as well. When we name the names of God as we pray, everything takes on the proper perspective.

Replace casual conversation with humble supplication throughout our prayers.                  By boldly approaching the throne of Grace we sometimes become overconfident in our prayers.  By going to God on our knees we can instead be confident in our God.  It no longer depends upon the quality of
my prayers that matters, but upon the character of my God.

There are times when I need God to be my friend.  But more often I am better off remembering that he is God!


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