Dialogue with God

Date: August 13, 2018

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living

Pray without ceasing….1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV


“I was blessed with a wonderful mother,” says David Moore, “[who] taught me how to pray for all things, great and small and then to trust Him to answer in the way that was best for me.”

David says that as a boy he noticed that when his mother prayed, she never said, “Amen” at the end of her prayers.  When he went to church and the pastor prayed, he always finished with a flourish and a hearty, “Amen.”  That, of course, was the sign that the prayer was ended and it was time to head for the door or whatever.  When others prayed they always signed off with an “Amen,” as a kind of spiritual radio station break signaling the conclusion of the whole matter.  But not his mother, and it bothered David.

One day he asked her, “Mother, why don’t you ever say Amen?” And she answered, saying, “I’m not through praying, and [saying] Amen denotes a conclusion to a prayer, and I’m not through yet.  I am just pausing for a while.”  She explained, “Jesus knows that I have many duties to perform and He doesn’t mind waiting for a few minutes before we continue our conversation.”

Is that Scriptural or what?  When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he told them to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV).   Another translation puts it, “Pray continually” and a third renders the text, “Always keep on praying” (Living Bible).  Obviously Paul couldn’t have meant that we should pray every waking moment.  Even those who have entered cloisters and dedicated their lives to prayer will tell you that it is impossible to focus on prayer every moment.  Even the most dedicated will tell you that their minds wander, and their thoughts drift far astray.

What this godly woman practiced is exactly what Paul had in mind.  Live day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute so that you are in touch with the Lord.  Prayer is an attitude, an expression of your heart which finds expression in our words.  But it goes far beyond the composed verbal expressions which we think of as prayers.

After spending most of her life alone in Africa, a Scottish woman returned to her native Scotland.  Mary Slessor was admired for her work, but friends began to talk among themselves.  “Have you noticed,” said one, “that she mumbles to herself almost all of the time?”  It seemed obvious to them that the loneliness and isolation had affected her mind.  With the true loyalty of a friend who tells you about your social flaws, someone pointed out the fact that people were talking about her whispers and apparent conversation, not intended for other people.

Immediately Mary Slessor set them straight.  “Yes,” she replied, “I know what I am doing.  I’m talking to Jesus.”  She explained that in everything she prayed and vented her feelings to the Lord.

There’s a good chance that your employer might wonder about your sanity, if you prayed audibly all of the time; but you can make it a practice, as did David Moore’s mother, never to say, “Amen,” never, in reality, to say, “OK, God, that’s it for now.  I’ll be in touch with you the next time.”

Prayer is conversation between you and your heavenly Father.  It’s a dialogue that should never end.  Though you may never have noticed this fact in the Gospel, it’s interesting to observe that the prayers of Jesus were very short in public, very long in private.   His conversation with His heavenly Father ended only when He cried, “Into thy hands I commend my Spirit,” and then God glorified Him as His Son and received Him into His presence.

May God forgive us for the Amens we have used to conclude our praying, and keep the dialogue going.  Yes, indeed.


Resource reading: John 17:1-26

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