I admit that I am not the most observant person and that I am a slow learner. Sometimes it takes the convergence of several different sources to get my attention and drive home a point. Yesterday was one of those days when God used a bullhorn to say, “Why don’t you talk to me more often?”
Yesterday morning, I was studying Matthew 21:1-22 for a message this week on Palm Sunday. My focus is on verses 12-22 and the events after the triumphal entry. Life is never the same after the King arrives is the main idea I want the congregation to see. The first change Jesus makes is to transform our priorities (verses 12-13). Jesus confronts the religious leaders that they have traded prayer for profit, a relationship with God for rituals. Jesus restores order and returns the temple to its intended purpose–a house of prayer.
In the evening, I read a chapter in Daniel Henderson’s book, Defying gravity: How to survive the storms of pastoral ministry. In chapter 4, “Gauge Two: Spiritual Intimacy,” he speaks of the importance of prayer in developing an intimate relationship with God. He points out that our enemy uses “Weapons of Mass Distraction” to keep us from prayer. “The first priority for unencumbered leadership was prayer. It is clear that this is a profound defense against the Devil’s weapons of mass distraction. This issue of intimacy with God is core to spiritual health and leadership survival.”
I am also reading through J. Kent Edwards’ book, Deep preaching: Creating sermons that go beyond the superficial. In chapter 6, “Take God’s idea into your closet,” the author introduces the concept of “closet work,” the step between studying a passage of Scripture and preparing a sermon. It is in the closet that we pray and listen for the Holy Spirit to teach us and empower us for ministry.
I may be a slow learner, but I don’t need to be whacked with a 2 x 4 to get the point. I think God is telling me to spend more time in prayer.