Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Adam Wormann)
Recently I took a student to Taco Bell, or as I like to call it, Heaven on Earth. I love it, but I actually got depressed when I realized I was mayor of Taco Bell on Foursquare. That’s not an accomplishment. It’s great, but man, those burritos hit hard.
So, we were going to pray before we ate. Have you ever felt awkward praying before a meal at Taco Bell, or any other restaurant? Maybe you pull the “everyone pray quietly to yourselves so nobody really notices” routine, or the “let’s pray really loud so everyone knows we’re Christians and honoring God” bit. It does always feel a little awkward praying in a public place like that, especially in NJ where the spiritual climate is fairly dead. I decided to not concentrate on the atmosphere so much, but on the words instead. That’s when it hit me…
“…and bless this food to our bodies.”
Really? I know God is a god of great miracles, but making Taco Bell healthy? That may be more amazing than the resurrection. Not quite, but close. I don’t care how much you pray, my bet is that because of your prayer or my prayer, God is not going to superintend and make that stuff “nourishing.” I think we pray more out of habit and rote memory than we do heart. My wife caught me doing this a couple of times and it really nailed me. We’re praying together and I say something, and she asks “what do you mean by that.” I realized I just rambled, not even sure what I was praying about.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him…” –Matthew 6:7-8
Usually, when we talk about this verse, we think of things like the Lord’s Prayer (which, oddly enough, comes right after this passage). Reciting a prayer like the Lord’s Prayer isn’t empty and meaningless, unless we let it become that way, which often happens. If our heart is there and we reflect on what we’re praying, the meaning can be quite significant. While we often criticize things like the empty repetition of prayer, we’re so often blind to the fact that we do it ourselves. I know I’m guilty of this all the time.
Think about when you pray. When you pray before meals, do you say the same thing all the time? Why do you pray before meals? Where is this in scripture? It’s not bad, but it’s worth thinking about the way in which we pray, especially when it’s routine. Don’t let your relationship with God simply be something that you do. It’s not helping you, it’s not helping Him.
There’s no reflection questions this week. We probably don’t need them. The time would probably best be spent in some time of prayer and reflection, where we really think about what it is we’re conversing with God about.
Adam Wormann is a Youth Pastor in Old Bridge, NJ where he’s been serving for the past 8 years. He is also one of the mentors at Life in Student Ministry and the editor of the “Time Out” series. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.
Posted on August 2, 2010