As my son rounded the corner, I could tell something was up: His fashionalbe 3-year-old bowlcut was going punk with 4 inch spikes in every direction.
At 10pm (way past his bedtime) he had found some type of gell and applied it by the handful.
No big deal, kinda funny, actually. Until I smelled it. That strong, unmistakable scent of Vix Vapor Rub.
Vix has a use. When my kids are sick and have a hard time breathing, rubbing some vix on their chest can give them some relief.
Vix has misuses, too. One of them is rubbing it in your hair by the handful. I'm sure there are others.
After 30 minutes, 5 shampoos (2 in the sink, 3 in the tub), and a pajama change, it's clear that it's a problem.
24 hours later, after a couple google searches, a few more showers, and a few ounces of baby powder (google it!), things are getting better.
By this time, neither my son or I want anthing to do with vix. I garuntee you my son will never put vix in his hair again.
Sometimes we misuse something, and think our miserable expereience is due to what it is rather than how we misused it.
This happens with prayer for a lot of people. Many have had a bad expereience with prayer because they don't know how to use it or, worse, someone misused it on them. Since they don't know what it is for, they figure it is just a mess that they rather skip.
In Matthew 6, Jesus talked about some misuses of prayer.
Jesus said that some pray to be seen by others. He calls them hypocrites. In an attempt to get a reward from others they forfeit something greater.
Rather than pray in places where people could see them, he taught his disciples to go into a room, shut the door and pray to their Father. He told them their Father was "krypto," one unseen. In order to expereience this unseen God, your communion with Him should be "krypto" as well. As you become unseen, no one else can validate you. Yet, your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Jesus goes on to say don't pray like pagans, who keep on babbling, who think they will be heard for their many words. Jesus teaches his disciples that God already knows whay we need, before they even ask.
Do you pray to be seen?
To check off a duty, to appear to be spiritual, to speak your mind with some type of conjured
Do you pray to be heard?
To get God's attention, to convince God to move when He might not, to get others to do your bidding?
Perhaps many are frustrated with prayer because we have been misapplying it. Prayer supposed to give us comfort and rest, yet many have felt just the opposite. Is it because we want prayer to make us look good? Is it because we want to use prayer to make God (and others) do what we want?
If so, we are doing it wrong. Our problem may not be with prayer itself, but with they way we have misapplied it.
If Jesus takes away two common reasons why we pray, to be seen and to be heard, what is left?
No wonder his disciples came to Him and asked, "Teach us how to pray."