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~ Unholy Communion ~

        "Herod came dressed in his royal robes.  He sat down on his throne and made a speech.  The people shouted, "You speak more like a god than a man!"  At once an angel of the Lord struck him down because he took the honor that belonged to God.  Later, Herod was eaten by worms and died.

        "As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth.  Jesus' disciples asked, 'Teacher, why was this man born blind?  Was it because he or his parents sinned?'  'No it wasn't,' Jesus answered.  'But because of his blindness, you will see God work through him.'" (John 9:1-3)

        When Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He instructed them (and us) to first declare that the Father's name be made holy.  Quite frequently, Jesus taught that we must pray in His name.  The first commandment is God's assertion that He is the only God, and no one or no thing can come before or above Him.

        After John was given the Revelation, he wrote, "Then after I had heard and seen all this, I knelt down and began to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown it to me.  But the angel said, 'Don't do that!  I am a servant, just like you.  I am the same as a follower or a prophet or anyone else who obeys what is written in this book.  God is the one you should worship!" (Revelation 22:9)  Unfortunately for Herod, he didn't have the same attitude as the angel and let the people honor him as God, with a fatal result.  However, many of us carry a similar God-dishonoring attitude into our prayer lives, then wonder why our prayers feel dead.

        Contract prayers are dishonoring to God: "Lord, if You do this I promise to..." Making bargains with God is blasphemous and arrogant.  While praise and giving thanks are honorable and pleasing prayers to God, many "praise prayers" always have a self-serving tag line: "You are so wonderful, Lord, why don't You show your power by granting my requests?" Pity prayers attribute human characteristics to God: "Please, I beg of You!"  Groveling in hopes of making God feel sorry is childish manipulation that many practiced on their human parents and teachers as children. Another manipulation many used as children was "bugging," praying the same words over and over as though we are trying to wear God down until He finally relents, like a kid hounding his parent for a candy bar while shopping until the parent gives in, "OK, here, now be quiet!"  "When you pray, don't talk on and on as people who don't know God." (Matthew 6:7)  Deliberately eloquent prayers bring attention to the self and thus dishonor God.  "When you pray, don't be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on the street corners." (Matthew 6:5)

        True prayer is holy communion with God.  These kinds of prayers constitute unholy communion.  Praying with unrepentant sin in the heart is unholy communion:  "If you don't forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:15)  Praying in the middle of unresolved conflict without having attempted to make peace is unholy communion: "If you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God." (Matthew 5:23-24)  Praying with the self at the center is unholy communion: "Even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered because you pray just for selfish reasons." (James 4:3)

        Two-way prayer, divine dialoging, is holy communion.  So is spending hours in praise and adoration.  Any interaction with God that is infused foremost and above all with the intention and heart to make His name holy as a result, to have the answers to prayer (His works, as exemplified in the quotations from John at the beginning of this Reflection) glorify His presence and love, to practice faith, for without faith we cannot please Him (Hebrews 11:6), is holy communion.

        In holy communion with God, the many promises of Christ are then empowered into fulfillment without hindrance: "If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:14)  If you believe in your heart that your request is God's will, then you will pray in confidence without any hesitation in invoking the name of Christ.  In this manner, Christ declared you can cause a mountain to move.

        Prayer is thus powerful!  Are "natural" laws suspended in favor of the "supernatural?"  It only looks that way.  If someone 200 years ago could see a helicopter hover overhead, he would insist that natural laws, like gravity, were being magically broken.  Instead, other physical laws and principles are being used, such as aerodynamics, in cooperation with the ones we know.  A helicopter does not overcome gravity.  Rather, it needs gravity in order to work, although it looks like it is defying gravity.  Holy Communion reveals zillions of other "laws," gifts, blessings, and powers, the "things that God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9b) that "we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." (1 Corinthians 2:12b)  Therefore, "You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father." (John 14:12b)

        Holy Communion in the form of prayer is so sacred and a cherished treasure to be used with great reverence.  It's purpose is the same purpose for worship, for ministry work, for these Weekly Reflections; it isn't to learn how to get more out of God.  That would be unholy and blasphemous.  The purpose is to get to know God more!  Then we must be faithful stewards of His gifts and promised answers to our prayers.  "You know the Lord is God!  He created us, and we belong to him.  We are his people, the sheep in his pasture.  Be thankful and praise the Lord as you enter his temple.  The Lord is good!  His love and faithfulness will last forever." (Psalm 100:3-5)

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services

Weekly Reflections © January 27, 2001

Responses are welcome at: Reflections@prayergear.com

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