Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Is Your Communion All About the "Whine"?

When I did a quick search on the word "communion," I came up with two separate definitions:

1) the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared.

2) the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
The first is a rite of the church, also known as the Lord's Supper.  It is the time set aside to remember Christ's great sacrifice on the cross and to follow the Lord's command, "This do ye in remembrance of me."  In keeping with the tradition, the congregation takes part in the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine (grape juice).  And while this is an important and sacred event, it is not the form of communion I wish to discuss this morning, though I do want to make a play on words when asking, "Is your communion all about the whine?"

The communion I wish to discuss today is that of exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, particularly with the Lord in prayer.  Each day, we are privileged with an open invitation to approach God's throne and invited to stay as long as we want.  During that time, we are urged to pour out our hearts before the Lord, to share our innermost thoughts and desires, to express our deepest joys.  But I wonder if I'm the only one who has a tendency to make that communion all about the whine.

I don't mean to.  I don't approach the throne of God ready to dump all my problems on Him, but within just a couple of minutes in prayer, the whine takes over.  Instead of asking for the Lord to meet my needs, I whine about what I don't have.  Instead of interceding on my brother or sister's behalf, I whine about how my problems are bigger than theirs.  Instead of lifting up my voice in praise, I whine about how long it's taking the Lord to answer my prayers.  Whine, whine, whine!  And then I wonder why I leave my prayer closet feeling discouraged and overwhelmed.  What should I expect?

Recently, I was introduced to a new way to pray.  While I don't necessarily use this format every day, I have found that it helps keep my thoughts more focused, my prayers less self-centered, and my whines to a minimum.  And my favorite thing is that it's easy to remember.  Just think "P.R.A.I.S.E."

The "P" stands for praise.  Before I ask for anything or whine about my lot in life, I praise the Lord for who He is and what He's done in my life.  Believe it or not, by the time I spend just a few minutes here, I find I have much less to complain about than before I began.

The "R" stands for repent.  Doing this regularly, I can keep short accounts with God, which is imperative for our relationship.  And oddly enough, I find that it's the same couple of things each time, which helps me to pinpoint the spiritual areas in my life that need the most work.  Repentance puts me in a more humble state and helps me to realize that I don't deserve anything from God, so everything He gives is a blessing far beyond what I could ever deserve.  It changes my entire attitude.

The "A" is for acknowledgment.  Again, this is all about attitude and frame of mind.  During this time, I acknowledge that God is the Lord of all and that He is in control of all things.  No matter what I may face, I can rest assured that it has passed through His hands first.  I acknowledge that He is the Master, and I am the servant, subject to His commands.  Do you see how this type of prayer is pulling our eyes off ourselves and on the Lord?

The "I" stands for intercession.  This is the time spent praying for others.  Obviously, I can't pray for everybody every day, so instead, I either divide up my prayer list, or I pray for the specific needs that the Lord lays on my heart.

The "S" is for supplication.  Now, it's time for me to pour out my personal requests.  Yes, sometimes, I do still whine, especially if I have a need that is weighing me down, but for the most part, I find that I simply state my needs and requests to God.  Most of the "whine" has dissipated by the time I reach this point of my prayer.

Lastly, the "E" stands for equipping.  Before leaving the throne of God, I ask for the Lord to equip me with the specific things I need to live for Him that day.  Maybe it's strength or focus or a calm spirit.  Whatever the need, I ask Him to equip me to face the day ahead.

Is this the perfect prayer formula?  Probably not.  Does it eliminate the whine altogether?  I'm afraid not.  But, as I mentioned before, it does keep my thoughts focused and my prayer life less self-centered.  By doing that, I've found that the whines are contained to a minimum.

What about you?  Is your communion all about the whine?  Maybe you ought to try a different approach to your time with the Lord.  Who knows?  Perhaps you'll find a way to eliminate the whines completely.  (If you do, would you please let me know? That's something I'm definitely interested in.)

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. - Psalm 145:18

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