Govern Your Prayer Life

Posted on: March 22nd, 2015

Last year during Jim Neff’s excellent Sunday morning class, a word popped into my mind during our study of I Peter 2:13 – 17 concerning our attitude towards civil authorities. That word was governor.

How many of you remember that word as it applied to automobiles? In high school I heard boys derisively allude to other classmates having governors on their cars. These devices were either installed by their parents or used as a threat. Once attached, no car could exceed the predetermined speed set on the governor by the parent. I’m sure our teenagers can see the potential for social embarrassment. For a while in the 50s insurance companies would give policy discounts for governors, but it wasn’t long before the “hot-rodders” connived a method to bypass it.

An obvious Biblical parallel usage is James 3:1-12. Wouldn’t it be a blessing to have a governor on our tongues? But we already possess such a governor in the form of our will which God has provided to us with instructions how to best use it. What I would like to do is present a proposition to use that will toward our prayer life.

The Lord gave us a model prayer as a pattern for our prayer lives (Matt. 6:9-13). Let us use this to investigate our
own prayer lives; you will have to answer these questions yourself because only you know the answers. What percentage of your prayers consists of praising God for who He is? Now, calculate what percentage goes for thanksgiving. Next, how much of your prayer life seeks providential blessings for our brothers and sisters in Christ, our family members, our friends and neighbors? What percentage requests help for spiritual, mental, and physical health?

After adding these areas according to time, it is your turn–literally. Calculate your requests for material blessings, personal desires, and providential outcomes. Here is where I suggest we use our personal “governors”. We need to think as we pray. Mindless repetition and phrases are perhaps all right for children. As we enter the age of accountability, that will not do. One would be better served not praying at all than not to realize what it is you are praying for and Whom you are addressing. As King Claudius states in Hamlet, act III, scene iii: “My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; words without thoughts never to heaven go.”

If we find our prayers derailing into our personal wants, it is time to stop and get back on track. For example, I am sure it is fine to pray that the Lord vouchsafe safety to all players in the big game, but if you implore the Almighty that the “Boys not only win but beat the point spread”, you are out of line. You can supply your own silly example, but I am sure you understand–you are addressing the Maker and Creator of the universe, not Dear Abby.

Think before you pray and as you pray. You need not neglect your concerns; however, remember your reverence and thanks. Ecclesiastes contains the word vanity and its plural 36 times. Solomon long ago understood how humans project selfishness into their lives to the extent that ego excludes all else. Such projection could and does often exclude even our Maker, our Savior, and our study of God’s word through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Beware. Let’s not permit our “I-wannas” to crowd out other people’s needs and our thanks for all we are blessed with through God the patient and compassionate.

Larry Purkey