I recently completed some research on communication, specifically communicating with the use of our cellphones and was surprised to learn that there is such a thing as:
Nomophobia by definition is a phobia of being without a cellphone, specifically not having a cell signal and fear of low or no battery, which keeps one from the use of their cellphone. Symptoms of Nomophobia include phantom vibrations, panic attacks, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, elevated heartbeat, trembling, and chest pain.
It gets better!
I read some recent research from May 2017 that suggested adults, ages 18 to 40, are becoming increasingly addicted to their phones with habits including:
- The average adult (18 to 40 years old) will check their phone 110 times a day
- 12% of adults use their phones while showering
- 44% of adults check job-related emails by phone while on vacation
- 75% of users admit that they text while driving
- The average user will spend 2 hours and 51 minutes a day on their cellphone..
- That’s just shy of 20 hours a week (a part-time job)
- That’s 80 hours a month
- That’s 10 “working days” out of a 30 day month or the equivalent of 1/3 of your working hours spent on your phone!
For centuries mankind has been hard at work to communicate more, and to communicate more effectively. Think about it! We’ve come a LONG way from cave-wall carvings!
- Carvings on stone and cave-walls
- Smoke signals
- Carrier Pigeon(s)
- Letters by horseback
- USPS (“snail-mail”)
- Dial-up Internet
- Mobile Phone
- SMS (text message)
- Social Media
Each one of these modes and methods of communication has been an attempt at communicating in various relationships, an effort to hear and to be heard.
What about your relationships with God?
How often do you spend time working on your communication with God? Listening. Seeking. Asking. Talking. Understanding. What would happen – how would your faith and your relationship with God look different if you were to intentionally invest in communication with him through prayer in the same way as an average person does communicating on their cellphone?
In Jesus’ famous Sermon on The Mount he addresses prayer first in Matthew 6 (The Lord’s Prayer), and again in Matthew 7:7-11.
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
There is so much to unpack in this passage, but there are just a few that I am going to address.
First, Jesus says, “keep on”. This isn’t about being repetitive or bugging God into submission. Keeping on suggests an ongoing conversation or dialogue. It’s one that continues to develop over time.
KEEP ON COMMUNICATING WITH GOD!
Next, in relationship to “keeping on”, Jesus is going to introduce 3 active-imperatives:
An active-imperative in the original language lets us know that we have a responsibility where our faith is concerned, that communication with God doesn’t just happen. It takes work. It requires intentionality. It demands attention. More on this later…
I want to look a little closer at the 3 descriptors that God gives us regarding our responsibility in prayer.
Before we can effectively address what Jesus is calling us to regarding how and why we should pray, we must first understand some pretty important culture and context behind Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 7. If we don’t we run the risk of taking our commitment to prayer WAY out of context!
If you read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7-11 out of context, it looks almost as though it reads:
“God, whatever I ask for, you’re going to give to me.”
“God, whatever I’m looking for, you’re going to help me find, right?!”
“God, whenever I knock, you’re obligated to open the door that I want entrance into!”
There are entire theologies, even a doctrine, predicated on this type of misappropriation of Scripture; whole systems, even churches, that have established themselves on the teaching that we can have whatever we want, otherwise known as “name it…claim it!”, theology because of a gross abuse of this passage taken WAY! out of context.
Just so we’re clear, God doesn’t owe us anything. He’s not some cosmic jeanie in a bottle waiting to grant us our every wish when it’s convenient for us to come to him or when we’ve reached desperation in our lives. Not even close!
In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, Jesus was talking with his disciples as well as a large crowd that had gathered to hear him. This was an eclectic audience with representation from multiple regions.
In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, Jesus spends quite a bit of time up front addressing important matters of faith and life. This sermon speaks to the heart of every follower of Jesus and tackles everything including our attitudes, our actions, characteristics of the Christian-life, relationships, spiritual disciplines, and much, much more.
In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, Jesus concludes his assertions with application that can only ever be realized through prayer. Think about it! You’re there at the base of the mountain as Jesus is giving the most radical message you have ever heard, a message with incredible implications for your faith and life, and a message with clear directives that would leave even the best of believers feeling a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Come on! Jesus has just dulled out a list of attitudes, attributes, and actions that we as Christ-followers are responsible for. The problem is, none of us in our carnality has even the slightest of chance to realize these things on our own. And Jesus being fully aware of this dilemma meets us in the middle of our mental-madness (trying to figure out how we’ll ever live up to these standards of life and faith), giving us the greatest resource available to us…PRAYER!
Through the power and the presence of the Spirit of God living in us and through us…
Now we are able to realize the life that Jesus calls every Christian to live.
Let’s look a little closer at the 3 tasks of every follower of Jesus as we come to prayer.
“ASK” | αἰτέω | to request, to petition
To ask God means that we are in pursuit of him – we are intentionally engaging God in our lives. Instead of superimposing on God the selfish desires that we’ve contrived based on the standards and expectations of the world around us, we are to ask God to draw us close to him so that as we study his word, we will discover what God cares about. This can only happen if we are actively pursuing God. And this will only be realized if we are deliberate in pursuing God.
“SEEK” | ζητέω | to search for like a treasure, to desire, to require
Seeking God is about active pursuit; it’s realizing that God is to be desired and sought after above all else. When we pray, especially in light of what Jesus shares in the first two-thirds of the Sermon on The Mount, to seek God is to actively look to align our priorities with the word, will, and way of God.
“KNOCK” | κρούω | to beat a door with a stick, to gain admittance
When Jesus calls us to keep knocking, he is requiring of us a very purposeful persistence in our relationship with him. This isn’t about beating the door down, forcing ourselves in, or knocking incessantly until God caves to our desires. Instead, when we continually seek a right-relationship with God through prayer, we are being persistent, continuing to stay our course of action in our relationship with God and call as Christians regardless of opposition.
Bringing my thoughts full-circle, what would happen if we were intentional about our prayer lives making prayer the first part of everything that we do, where we couldn’t do without it? I guess similar to the way we view our cellphones today? How would your relationship with Jesus look different if you were committed to prayer?
Here are a couple of quotes on prayer that I want to leave you with:
“To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ.” (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline)
“Praying with frequency gives us the readiness to pray again as needed from moment to moment. The more we pray – the responses of our Father to our requests – our confidence in God’s power spills over into other areas of our life.” (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of The Disciplines)
Check out the full message from this past Sunday!