We currently do not own a couch, so I feel a tad bit deceitful with this title. And since it’s completely my fault we are couchless because I gave away a perfectly good leather couch so I could have a trendy new white couch… and despite all the best promises of the salesperson, said new white couch stayed white exactly two days, after which I no longer liked or wanted it. So we’ve been couchless the last year because can you guess that Brad is not eager to let me buy another one? All that to say, I technically don’t have couch cushions to teach me something about prayer, but I do have a pocket that made me think of couch cushions so just try to stick with me here.
Earlier this week I put on a jacket that I haven’t had on since last year. To my very happy surprise, I discovered $20 in the pocket. I don’t remember putting it there, but it is clearly my jacket, so I’m claiming it. It seems that, according to all things Google, pockets of jackets are the second place behind… you guessed it, couch cushions, that one should look when they are in need of some extra cash. Google also mentioned something about vending machines, but that’s probably story fodder for another day.
Now I know what you’re thinking: What does any of this have to do with prayer? I’m so glad you asked.
Money ends up in couch cushions, the pockets of last year’s jackets, the washing machine, or under our car seats because it just slips out. It’s not purposeful or intentional. We don’t notice when it happens or remember it later. Likewise, it’s not of much value to us even though its money.
The same is true of casual prayer. Those quick little prayers we fling up to God while we are rushing to do whatever is next on our to do list. Those prayers we offer up more out of routine than relationship and reverence. Those prayers we begin but never end because we fall asleep or our mind wanders to what we need from the grocery store.
When we call on His name, it is not casual.
Prayer is God’s invitation to us to be in His presence, and the cost of that invitation was the cross. If we’re not mindful of that, we neglect the seriousness of the privilege of calling upon God. Even more, we miss out on the power of calling upon God.
I might be stepping on some toes here, but let me say this. I think we’ve convinced ourselves (and probably told others) that we’re just in a constant stream of prayer all day long while we go about our business. We think that makes us sound like good Christians. But the truth is, God doesn’t encourage us to be casual with Him, but to seek Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
The dedication and desperation of our prayer life is a direct reflection on our dependence of God.
Since I’m preaching this sermon to the mirror, let me use myself as example. I’ve offered up more than a few casual prayers in the past. I’m not sure if God answered because I mostly don’t even remember what I prayed in them. I missed out on encountering God and experiencing His power. But I can tell you on October 18, 2013, Betty was my first girl to go home from prison. I met her at the bus station in Waco. She was wearing men’s clothes and carrying an onion sack with every belonging she had. I still have the picture of the two of us, but I don’t need it to vividly remember pouring my heart out to the Lord before I ever left the parking lot, begging Him to make a way for me to be a blessing to girls going home from prison… that no girl would ever have to go home the way Betty did. It is a prayer I have repeated fervently and frequently over the last six years. I’ve cried and begged and pleaded that same prayer over and over and over again. I needed God to do what I could not do on my own.
And in the last six years, I’ve seen Him do it… powerfully and repeatedly doing immeasurably more than all I had hoped for or imagined. I could recount many stories for you, but let me tell you that just last night I stepped through the gates of a prison where an entirely new ministry opportunity – one completely and entirely focused on helping women who are about to be released from prison – has unfolded for me. If I told you all the crazy details of how this came about, your mouth would hang open and you’d know without question: All by the hand of God.
I don’t want to ever forget when I pray I’m in the presence of a holy, sovereign God.
I don’t want to ever discount the cost of the cross that gave me access to Him.
And I sure as heck don’t want to miss out on the promise that when I seek Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, I’m going to find Him.
I hope you do, too!
with big love,