"It helps my game..."

A guest preacher here recently asked us if we saw our prayers as communicating with God or communing with Him...

Huw Williams | 09:00, Thursday 20 November 2014 | Turin, Italy

I remember the time when I was a very young follower of Christ, when a world-famous sportsman was rumoured to be a "born again Christian". There was no small amount of excitement in Christian circles at this news, and eventually a journalist came up with the straight question and was given the answer along the lines of, "Yes, I read my Bible every day, it really helps me focus and it certainly helps my game..."

It's very easy to make a harsh judgement (as I'm pretty sure I did at the time) and a pronouncement about someone's faith from a sentence or two relayed by a journalist, which is why I'm not going to name the sportsman in question (who for all I know, is indeed a Christian believer) but whatever the reality, the impression conveyed by that interview at least, was not particularly favourable. And all that excitement amongst Christians seemed to be replaced as quickly as it had sprung up, by scepticism and negativity.

...why do we pick up the Bible and read it? And while we're thinking about it, why do we pray?

But I've often wondered over the years, whether many more of us don't all fall into that way of thinking. Assuming we do read God's word, why do we pick up the Bible and read it? And while we're thinking about it, why do we pray? It is all too easy to fall into a utilitarian relationship with God, isn't it? I have found myself doing it a lot recently - searching the word for some answers to my (perceived) problems, and then rushing into prayer with a long list of all the things I'm anxious about - after all, I'm the one with the needs and He's the one who can fix them, isn't He? Well, yes... and Jesus certainly encourages us to pray for our daily bread. But then he also tells us not to worry because our heavenly Father knows our needs and cares about us far more than about birds and flowers (and see how He looks after them!)

My point is that the difference between my motivation in coming to God's word and to prayer, and the motivation of that sportsman, is often much smaller than I would like to admit. I might not be praying for a better game exactly, but then again my "game" is not my job. Are my prayers really all that different? I often fall into approaching God primarily because I want things from Him, rather than wanting Him. And that is all the difference in the world.

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