In a previous post, I mentioned that my wife and I were in charge of s’mores for our Vacation Bible School. Part of that responsibility included keeping the fire going. Because it’s easier to keep a fire going than it is to restart one that’s died out. That means keeping a constant eye on the fire and keeping it fed with fuel.
When God instructed Moses about the alter of sacrifice, He told him: “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out” (Leviticus 6:13). This altar represented prayer: prayer for praise, prayer for thanksgiving, prayer for supplication, prayer for repentance – prayer for everything.
In our heart, that flame on our altar of offering begins to flicker when we don’t pray for everything. It dies when we don’t pray for anything. Prayer indicates neediness, dependence and trust. A person full of pride doesn’t pray because he/she fails to see the need of it. Their attitude is: “I got this,” or in false humility they’ll say: “I don’t want to bother God with this one.” God is not bothered by our prayers. He is bothered by our lack of them. His instruction to us regarding prayer in general is to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
The first sign of a failing prayer flame is a lack of thankfulness. An unthankful heart fails to see its need of God. Why does Scripture tell us “in everything give thanks?” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Because we need God for everything. Only a humble heart understands this. When was the last time you thanked God for a warm bed, clean clothes, or running water? When we first got our place in Zionville, NC we had Internet before we had water. Trust me: you want water before you have Internet. You don’t realize how vital water is until you don’t have easy access to it. For a long time, we had to bring water to the cabin and we really had to consider our options before letting it down the drain. We saved water from the dehumidifier. We saved water in a rain barrel. We boiled any water we wanted to use for washing, cooking and cleaning, and any water that was unusable in that way, we used to “bucket flush” the toilet. Fun. When we were finally able to get a well put on the property, we were thankful for the well guys, the mess they had to make of the yard to put the well in and, of course, the water! Clean, clear mountain water. We were also thankful for a functioning water heater. We had running water for showers, cooking, cleaning, clothes washing. It was a miracle! It also taught us again to be thankful for everything.
Another sign of a failing prayer flame is a lack of praise. Praise is focused on the goodness and character of God and usually dies alongside thankfulness when our prayer flame is going out. We stop praising God when we stop thinking about Him. When was the last time you thanked God just for the privilege of knowing Him? We live in a sin-cursed world. The darkness and cacophony of that sin is all around us yet somehow, through all that noise and darkness, God broke through and came into our lives with the clear light and harmonious sound of the gospel. Praise God! We get to know Him! That is a privilege worthy of all praise.
The thing about a flame is that it needs constant tending. God told Moses that “the priest shall burn wood on [the altar] every morning” (Leviticus 6:12). In other words, it needed constant attention. The prayer flame in our heart needs that same constant care. Are we praying without ceasing? Are we giving thanks in everything? Are we remembering to praise God just because He’s God? Are we fueling our fire?
Like what you’re reading? Click the Follow button, or follow me via email. Give me a like! Tell your friends! Spread the word!