Recently, I was reading the story of Paul’s conversion in the book of Acts. I love the part of the story where God has a conversation with Ananias. Paul has encountered Christ as Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians. Paul is struck blind even as he is called to be Christ’s apostle. The scene then shifts to Ananias praying. God speaks to Ananias and tells him to go and lay his hands on Paul to confirm Paul’s calling.
Now I have often imagined that if God spoke audibly to me, I would immediately respond with an enthusiastic “yes, Sir!” I’m probably kidding myself about that, but I enjoy reading Ananias’ response. He basically starts an argument with God. “But Lord, don’t you know that this guy has papers to arrest us and throw us in prison! I’m not going anywhere near that guy!”
If I were standing next to Ananias when he said something like that, I would want to step away expecting the lightning to strike. But God patiently corrects Ananias, telling him that He has chosen Paul to be His special servant. And then, Ananias goes and does what God told him to do.
Sometimes in church we are taught to pray with a “religious” voice. In other words, we put on a false piety. We use words that don’t really mean anything to us. We fake it. But I believe that God wants a real relationship with us. God does not want to hear “well-written” prayers or great oratory. God wants us to share our hearts with Him.
You may be reluctant to tell God what you really think, but God already knows that anyway! You cannot hide it from Him. You may think that the only real prayers are those that are spoken with holy words and attitudes. But real holy attitudes and words and actions can only come from God. And God can only make holy happen in us if we come to Him without pretense.
Lay down the burden of being appropriately religious right now and get real with God. Like Paul, He will work in your life and make you what He wants you to be.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC