Wool-Gathering or Praise Giving?

Monday & Tuesday 2/10 & 11/2020

Matthew 6:5-8 (New Living Translation)

5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

The Lord is not condemning all public prayer just insincere public prayer. But we’ll focus on the private prayer part this morning. First, there’s the assumption that as a follower of Christ we will pray. It’s not “if you pray” but “when you pray.” Notice how intentional we must be to follow these instructions. Don’t just get by yourself, also shut the door behind you. Then the idea is to focus all your attention on the Father. Alone in the quietness of the moment with every intention of focusing our minds on God we find that everything other than God comes to mind. Oswald Chambers writes, “Prayer is an effort of the will. After we have entered our secret place and have shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is pray; we cannot get our minds into working order, and the first thing that conflicts is wandering thoughts. The great battle in prayer is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer.” 

To wool-gather is to indulge in aimless thoughts or daydreams. And our Lord invites us to pray to the Father. If our minds are prone to wool-gathering then our first prayer to the Father can be, “My God, instead of a wool-gatherer I want to be a praise-giver. Help, Lord!”

Prayer:  My God, instead of a wool-gatherer I want to be a praise-giver. Help, Lord! Focus my attention on Your magnificence! Deepen in me a sense of my holy relationship to You. You, O Lord, are our spiritual Bridegroom. You, O Lord, are Jehovah’s Fellow. You, O Lord, are the sinner’s friend.

Help me Lord to consider the stark contrast between Your glory and my unworthiness, Your majesty and my meanness, Your beauty and my deformity, Your purity and my guilt, Your righteousness and my sinfulness.

Your love for me in Jesus Christ overcomes any contrast between You and me. You love me with an everlasting, unchanging love. Help me to love You as You love me.

You have given Yourself for me, may I give myself to You.

You have died for me, may I live for You, in every moment of my time, in every moment of my mind, in every pulse of my heart.

May we, Your people, never toy with the world and it enticements, but follow You, listen to Your voice, be clothed in Your grace, and radiate Your righteousness: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen! (Adapted from Valley of Vision)