Companion or waiter? - Hope 103.2

Companion or waiter?

By David ReayThursday 4 Feb 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Deuteronomy 4:5-7

5 “Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy. 6 Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations. When they hear all these decrees, they will exclaim, ‘How wise and prudent are the people of this great nation!’ 7 For what great nation has a god as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we call on him? (NLT)

One of the great distinctive qualities of the Christian faith is that our God is near to us, especially as we pray. Our God is not some abstract supreme being or a distant deity. Eugene Peterson illustrates this well.

Imagine having dinner at a restaurant with a special companion. You will pay some attention to the waiter, asking for things, perhaps even complaining about things. But your focus is on your companion. Other people scarcely exist.

The link with prayer is this: we can sadly drift into a sort of prayer where we are really dialoguing with ourselves. We are our own special companion. God is relegated to the role of a waiter. We call on him from time to time to ask for things, but he is always hovering on the edge of the main activity, which is our own preoccupation with ourselves.

Prayer, which is meant to be an expression of intimacy with God, becomes an exercise in talking to ourselves in religious language. To be sure, God is there—just as the waiter is vitally present at our dinner. But God is not the special companion. He drifts in and out of our internal dialogue.

Wouldn’t it be so good if we could imagine our prayer times with God as being like having dinner with a very special companion? Sure, there are distractions, other people present, but they are not intruding on the intimacy. Wouldn’t it be good if our prayers were conversations with God and not just ourselves?

David Reay

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