Well I gotta tell ya¯ my whole doctrinal perception on prayer has been totally challenged the past couple of weeks. Thanks to a dear friend of my wife and I, who is also a faithful COR Team buddy, we were introduced to Andrew Womack¯s teachings on the internet. This week I started his teaching series on ¯A Better Way to Pray¯ and it is nothing short of amazing! Tonight on the way home he shared an illustration that bears repeating to all of my COR Team Family.
Just before being deployed to Viet Nam, Andrew bought a dog named ¯Honey¯ that was ¯ part German shepherd and ¯ part Chow. He bought the dog as a watch dog for his mother while he was gone. The dog was especially mean because of the harsh abuse he had received from his prior owner. When someone walked by the house, the dog would rush out to the end of the yard and throw himself against the fence growling and barking at the passer by. However, if someone approached the front gate to come into the yard, Honey would just about injure himself running away because he was so timid and frightened. When Andrew returned home from Viet Nam, he liked to sit on the front porch and enjoy the view. Honey would run across the yard for Andrew to pet him, but would stop short about 10 feet away, roll over on his side and start slithering across the ground whining and whimpering. Honey wanted to be petted, but was afraid of being beaten like his former owner had done.
One day, when this happened, Andrew got mad at the dog as he slithered along on his side, and shouted, ¯Would you stop that! Why don¯t you just run up to me and jump up on me so I can pet you? What are the neighbor¯s going to think? The way you¯re acting they¯re going to think that I beat you all the time. Can¯t you just run up to me and act like I love you?¯ Then Andrew said, the Lord spoke to his spirit and said, ¯That¯s exactly the way I feel when you come to talk to me¯.
So often we approach prayer much the same way as ¯Honey¯. We approach God with timidity and fear expecting God to ¯come down on us¯ for sin, for not spending time enough in his word, for not praying enough, whining and whimpering our way through our prayer list with no real expectation of a positive outcome. All the while God is standing there with open arms waiting for us to jump up on him with full expectation of receiving his extravagant love. Psalm 100:2 tells us to ¯Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.¯ Let¯s turn our whining into worship¯ our timidity into thanksgiving¯ our fear into faith. God wants to just hang out with us for a while¯ to let us know how much he loves us.
Psalm 100:1-5 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth! Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.