February 11, 2020
Someone Was Listening
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. – Colossians 4:2
Growing up, my father always gave thanks for our meals at home. While his prayer was basically the same at every meal, he was teaching us a valuable lesson in how to pray and be thankful. Every mealtime, as we listened to Dad’s prayer, we were reminded of the Lord’s goodness to provide our needs, as well as the importance of thanking Him for that provision.
Later, as a new and young convert, it was not uncommon for me to be in awe of some of the older saints as we prayed together around the altars. Listening to them, I could tell they were in touch with God and knew something about prayer. They spent much time thanking God in their prayers, and that stood out to me. As the years have come and gone, I have realized more and more why those wonderful saints of God prayed the way they did.
On a recent Sunday morning, as our congregation gathered around the altar of prayer at our church, I was unaware that someone was listening to me pray. During the drive home from church, my wife informed me that a woman had told her that she had listened to me thank and praise God for quite a while, but noted that I had not asked God for anything. She remarked that she wanted to be like that.
You can be sure it was an encouragement to me to know that I had at least encouraged one other individual! Having learned some basic principles of prayer from my elders, I am happy that I, as an elder myself now, can pass those lessons on to others. While we are admonished to pray in secret, it is important to know that others may be listening.
Someone once told me a story about a child who was asked if he prayed every night before he went to bed. He replied, “Not every night, because sometimes I don’t need anything.” The naivety of that child is quite humorous, but how sad it would be if his prayer life never changed! When our prayers are dominated by self-needs, the other elements of prayer, including adoration, worship, thanksgiving, and intercession, are dwarfed and stunted. This keeps us from having a well-rounded prayer life and from growing spiritually. Praying or thanking God in generalities can also be limiting; a thankful person knows what he is thankful for. As we practice this privately, we will do it automatically when we gather to pray as a group. At our next prayer service, we can all be sure to thank God for what He has done. Remember, someone may be listening!