Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“And perhaps, as those who turn to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask Him for childish things will have less readiness to ask Him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded. I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than of God’s.”
– C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer (emphasis the author’s)
My third post, dated 8 July 2017, was entitled Silly Prayers. It was before I got into the rhythm of things and before I established any sort of format. I was just telling anecdotes. In the early post, I talked about my wife’s penchant for praying for any and every little thing as we drove down the road. In this specific case, we were going to the warehouse store at a bad time of day, and I mumbled that I hoped we could get a parking place near the door. That’s when she started into, “Oh, Lord, Mark’s knees are hurting today…” I scrambled to take my hat off. I didn’t close my eyes and bow my head. We were in a very curvy part of the back road at the time, but I felt that I had to remove my hat while she prayed out loud.
The conclusion of the post was that there were no such things as silly prayers, but my initial frustration was the concept that C. S. Lewis speaks of above, but from a different angle. I was thinking that we need to go to God in prayer for the great trials that we face, and not bother a very busy God with the trivialities. Of course, my wife’s child-like attitude was saying, “Aren’t we supposed to take everything to God in prayer?” Note: Child-like, not childish. There is a difference.
Considering C. S. Lewis’ argument, my wife is perfectly practiced in taking everything to God whether they are ‘childish,’ ‘silly,’ or ‘small’ things or the ‘great ones.’ At various times in Lewis’ fourth letter to Malcolm, he refers to such prayers as petty, childish, silly, and small.
My reaction to what I thought was a silly prayer borders onto the argument raised in Lewis’ last sentence on the subject. I felt that if we are going to ask God for something, it should be significant to our lives. This thought, after introspection, was more due to greed than Lewis’ point regarding self-worth versus our concept of God’s worth.
In one aspect to Lewis’ argument is that we feel that we are of such lofty status that the small stuff can easily be taken care of by a wave of our hand. This is ridiculous on the face of it. We are sinners saved by God’s Grace. Who are we to think that we handle the small stuff without God’s help? But alas, too many people think in such terms. For years, all the small stuff falls into place and the clockworks, that we feel that we have created, are the reason for the fine-tuned continuity. By clockworks, I’m referring to management style, leadership bearing, a command voice, or policies and procedures that are followed to the letter. All these things are necessary in the business world, and similar things work well within families or church projects.
Then you have that project where everything falls apart. You are the same. Your clockworks are the same. At that point, many people look to the skies and ask, “Why me?!” In other words, you take the credit when you succeed, but you blame God when it fails. In the book of Job, any of God’s replies to Job would be appropriate as an answer. “Where were you when I set the stars in place?” Et cetera. It is erroneous to think that we are too important to sully our time with silliness before God. Without God’s hand on our affairs, the smallest and simplest of our tasks can lead to catastrophe.
But thinking that God is such a dignified entity that He cannot be disturbed by our childish needs is equally absurd. Yes, He is the creator of everything, but Jesus came to earth as an infant. Jesus humbled Himself to the point of dying on the cross for our sins. Yes, we are still talking about Almighty God, but Jesus calls us brother. He wants a personal relationship with us. He says that you have done it for Me when you do it for the people who are most needy. That is not the clarion call of the altruistic doer. It is the call to know that you aren’t better than that other guy, and Jesus is identifying Himself with that other guy. But, yes, if you can help the poor fellow, do so. I have read that the poor fellow could be an angel in disguise. You never know.
Okay, I think there might be a few points to that argument in the last paragraph. God is sovereign, but He is our Father and Jesus is our brother. Neither are unapproachable, even for small, silly, childish things.
And then, we go back to the beginning of the C. S. Lewis quote. It’s as if Malcolm (whom you never hear from in the book) has suggested the good habit created in small things leads to no panic, no change in behavior when the great trials approach. In other words, absolute pure faith in God in everything.
In other words, as the Scripture above says in 1 Thessalonians, we are to pray continually. We should bring everything to God. In so doing, we are giving God the glory for having His hand in everything good that comes our way. And there will be more good coming, as we are less likely to veer from God’s path when we are looking to Him in all things.
Lord, thank you for every blessing that came with each tick of the clock today. Amen.