In the summer of 1996, my Sunday School teacher and friend, Tracy Vinson, challenged me about my prayer life. He asked the class if we were consistently seeking the Lord in prayer each day. I took it as a personal challenge because at the time I was not seeking the Lord each day or consistently in any way. To this day I am thankful for him and for what he said that day.
I took him up on his challenge. Tracy said that if we prayed for six weeks, every day, it would become a habit or part of our everyday life. Now he didn’t invent this challenge, we have all heard in some form or another that if we do something consistently for a period of time it will become a habit. But he shared it that day and almost 20 years later prayer is a consistent part of my life. I kind of felt that at least in this area of my life I had been faithful. Something to be proud of.
Until last Sunday.
Bro. Rufus’ sermon really hit me. I had to ask myself if I had been misusing the name of the Lord in my speech, prayers and praise. My pride quickly turned to humility, which is where it should have been the whole time.
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Exodus 20:7.
I had always assumed that this verse referred to not saying a specific cussing phrase that seems to be popular even with those who don’t believe he exists. Because of my parents training this specific phrase has always been painful to say and hear. To this day, I still cringe when I hear it.
But this scripture means more than that. I started to look at my prayer life. Are my prayers genuine or just repeated phrases that I think He wants to hear or me to say? When I praise Him, is it out of true worship or I am just going through the motions? When I tell people I am praying for them, have I truly prayed for them or just thrown their name up to the Lord? When I give thanks before a meal, why do I say the same words? Are they out of habit or sincerity?
“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?” Matthew 6:5 MSG
I have to admit that in some of these and maybe all at one time or another, I have been guilty of empty prayers and praise. I am convicted that I need to change this behavior and seek to be genuine and sincere with my words.
Words have meaning. Words have power. Our words and actions should always match. How do you match empty words with sincere action? I don’t think we can. If we start to examine our lives we can find many areas where we may be misusing the Lords name. Have you ever received a chain letter stating that if you send it to however many people that the Lord will bless you? Isn’t that like buying a lottery ticket to determine if you should tithe or not? What about when we say “Good Lord”, “God bless you”, “God Almighty” and other phrases like that?
What if Gods actions in our lives only matched how sincere our words toward Him are? Just a thought.
May our words and deeds always be sincere and not simply going through the motions. May our speech, prayers and praise never be vulgar or empty. May we always exalt His name. If you need more about how God feels about His name read Ezekiel 36: 16-32.
“Praise to the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being,
praise his holy name.” Psalm 103:1.
May we always be seeking Jesus and running to the cross!