We get so used to hearing a recorded message when we call places that when a live person answers and starts talking we’re a little surprised and almost not sure what to do. Sometimes our prayer life and our time in the Bible can get a little bit like that. We pray because we know we should, but do we live like we believe someone is listening and it’s going to make a difference?
It is easy for our spiritual life to become just following a routine. We do what is expected, but we maybe don’t have great expectations. Prayer can become just mouthing words and repeating phrases. True prayer is having a conversation with the living Lord of the universe who is active in the world and able to move heaven and earth. He listens to us when we pray and, amazingly, our prayers impact what happens. Jesus talked about mountains moving when we pray and then He gave the incredible promise: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22).
We pray expecting God actually turns His ear toward us. “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2). Prayer is not repeating words because we are following a tradition. We are talking to God who is alive, listening intently and graciously interested in what we have to say.
In I Samuel 3 we read of when the Lord spoke to the boy Samuel who later became a great prophet. The first two times Samuel heard the voice of the Lord he thought it was the priest Eli. He went to Eli but the priest told the boy he hadn’t called him and he should go back to bed. It wasn’t till the third time that Eli figured out it was God calling. It appears Eli wasn’t expecting God to come and talk to them.
Eli was very religious and faithfully followed the traditions. But it seems he didn’t expect God to speak or get too involved in people’s lives. When we open the Bible, because it is God’s inspired Word, we can expect God will speak to us through His Word. If we truly spend time in God’s Word, we will hear from God and something is going to happen in our lives.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God” (Romans 1:16). The word that is translated power in that verse has the same root as the word dynamite. When a person lights a stick of dynamite they expect something is going to happen. In a similar way, when we read the good news of Jesus and share the good news, we ought to expect great things are going to happen. Guilt and fear can be blown away. Peace and hope can be found. Lives and families can be transformed. Eternal destinies can be changed.
We pray and read the Bible not just because we have been told to do it. We pray and read the Bible expecting God is going to work in ways more powerful and wonderful than our mind can begin to imagine.