Today, I had the privilege of speaking at one of the high schools near my church. The principal there called me months ago and asked me if I would be willing to speak at their chapel. I chose today because it fit best with my schedule. The purpose of my speaking there was two-fold. One reason was because I felt that God opened the door for me to speak, and the second was that it offered the possibility of helping my youth group to grow. I know that may sound selfish, but it’s one of the bargaining points that the principal used when presenting me with the opportunity. He said that he requires his students to be a member of a youth group and that some of them haven’t found a youth group to belong to yet. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the school I spoke at was a Christian school. There were about 50 students present, 3 of which are members of my youth group. It was nice to hear them get excited that their youth pastor was coming to their school to speak!
I spoke on “prayer” and entitled my message: “What’s a Christian to do?” In my initial talks with the principal of that school, he revealed to me that he is ashamed to see that most of the students there don’t pray. I don’t know if he meant that they don’t ever pray, and I also don’t think that he can determine that. But he did know that he rarely sees them pray before lunch each day. So I took what he told me, prayed about it, and ran with it. My main point was that often times; people don’t know what it means to be a Christian. I’ve run into too many people who think that in order to be a Christian, all they have to do is go to church once a week. Prayer is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life (along with the Word of God) and that was the message that I was trying to get across to them.
Another point I hit them with was that sometimes, people think they are too busy to pray. You’ve done it, the principal of the school has done it, I’ve done it (that’s for sure), and I’m sure that most Christians have done it. We live in a society and culture where busyness is the norm. More and more these days, kids are trained to go from one thing to the next. Wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, come home, start homework, go to a sports practice or game, come home, eat dinner, do more homework, etc, etc, etc… Did you notice that church wasn’t involved in that list? Usually, at least from what I’ve seen so far, homework and sports come before youth group and church. It’s a sad but true reality! Because of this extreme busyness that we all have in our lives, we often leave little to no time to communicate with God through prayer. This should not be the case…at all!
In the Bible, an excellent example of someone who understood the importance of prayer was…you guessed it…Jesus! Jesus was a very busy man who had people to teach, sicknesses and diseases to heal, miracles to perform, an enemy to fight, and a life to live as an example to others. But even though Jesus was insanely busy and had a ton of good reasons not to pray, He still found time to communicate with His Father in Heaven!
Luke 5:15-16 says:
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
This passage is just one example of Jesus’ extreme busyness. Word started to spread about the work and miracles that Jesus was doing and more and more people came to hear what He had to say and to be healed of their sicknesses and diseases. But as we see in the passage, Jesus often “withdrew” to lonely places (this means He went away…by Himself) to pray and spend time with His Father in Heaven! This passage should serve as a great example to us. Jesus displayed a very real sense of closeness with God that I believe we should all try to imitate. Jesus lived and prayed like He believed that prayer worked and it kept Him focused and in-touch with God. The great news is that it can do the same for us!
To illustrate the point that we need to talk to God on a regular basis, I included a poem that I found in one of my sermon illustration books.
“I woke up late, no time to pray, I hurried off to school.
I failed to take advantage of this important tool.
Throughout the day I ran about, I had no time to kneel.
When dinner came, I failed again, to thank God for my meal.
When day was done, I went to bed, to get the rest I needed.
But once again the Bible’s call for prayer was left unheeded.
One busy day my soul was called, to answer for my deeds;
And as I stood, I realized I had denied its needs.
My name was called, and I stepped up to hear my sentence quote;
Yet all I got, to my surprise, was a little paper note;
And on this note God had written a message, oh, so true.
“You always failed to talk to me, why should I speak to you?”
Every time I read this poem, it makes me think back to all the times in my life where I was too “busy” to talk to God. I pray that it did that for all of those High School students today as well!
As I stated earlier, prayer and the Word of God are two of the most important aspects of the Christian life. If you take out the spark of prayer, and the gas of God’s Word, then you will never have a fire!
Now, as I am 37,000 feet in the air (on my way to the national youth workers convention) in Atlanta, Georgia, I was able to do some thinking and I realize that God had me prepare and deliver a message on prayer because I needed to hear it myself! I have allowed myself to become so “busy” that I rarely give God the time that He deserves. That will soon change though.
I want to end this post with some questions that I asked during my talk today. I’m not only asking you this; I’m asking myself as well!
Don’t we believe in prayer? Don’t we know what it could mean in our lives? Then why don’t we pray?
My question for you is this: Do you struggle with this as well? Are you too busy to spend time communicating with your Father in Heaven?
God wants to be our friends. He wants to be there for us through thick and thin. If we don’t talk to Him, our friendship will not grow. We know that prayer is important to our lives, so why don’t we do it?