In The Right Place At The Right Time
Acts 16:13-14, “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”
In retrospect it was probably the most important decision she had ever made. At the time it had passed without incident. Nothing dramatic. No fireworks. No voice from heaven. No light shining down from above. Nothing but the simplicity of a decision that had probably been birthed out of years of habit and discipline. It was the Sabbath. It was the time of prayer. And so, Lydia went to the place of prayer just like she had countless times before. Little did she know at the time that her choice was going to change the rest of her life.
Choices. We all make them. From the moment the alarm clock first rings (“oh, just 5 more minutes“) to the closing moments of the day (“oh, another 5 minutes and then I will turn off the TV“), we are faced with almost countless decisions. Most carry little significance. (Let’s be honest, does it really matter if you choose Burger King over McDonald’s for lunch?) Other choices that we face can have tremendous impact and influence. Many of our decisions are almost unconscious, the result of years of habit. Some require much more thought and effort on our part. But regardless of where they fall in terms of importance, making choices is a part of daily living.
Today, I want to ask you about one very specific choice we all make. In truth it is one of the most important choices we make on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it is also one that we tend to pass over with very little thought. For many it is a choice that lies forgotten and neglected. (Alright, deep breath. Get yourself ready because you might not like this.) What places does prayer hold in your life? I know. Tough question. I mean we all know the right answer. But what about the honest answer? I’m not talking about the religious, in-church, want to impress my friends answer. No. I’m talking about the standing alone before the throne with only God listening answer. What places does prayer hold in your life?
I understand my generation’s obsession with spontaneity. We want things to be fresh, vibrant, and free from the formalism that seemingly defined the prayers of our father’s generation. We don’t want prayers that our memorized. We don’t want routine or repetition. We don’t want institutionalized prayers. We don’t want prayers that leaving us yawning somewhere in the middle, scratching our heads in confusion because we don’t understand the language. We want our prayers to be about conversation. We want to talk with God. We want prayer to be both speaking and listening. We want prayer to be something that has meaning, value, and impact. We want prayer that is real.
Cool. If that is your defintion of prayer, not a problem I say. But my question still remains. What place does prayer hold in your life? See, for many of us, the bottom line is that we just don’t prayer. Doesn’t matter how we define prayer. At the end of the day we still tend to ignore it. We make the choice NOT to pray far more often than we make the choice to pray. The truth is that all of us need to evaluate the importance of prayer in our own lives. Prayer should have a place in our lives. Prayer should be given time in our lives.
Lydia learned something important that day. Her commitment to prayer put her in the right place at the right time. It will do the same for us. How can I say that? Simple. Because there is never a wrong place or wrong time to pray. You can pray anywhere. You can pray anytime. You can pray about anything. If you are praying, then you’re in the right place at the right time. Lydia’s commitment to prayer positioned her for an encounter with God that forever changed her life. In fact, it forever changed her eternal destiny. Prayer does the same for us. Through prayer we encounter Him. And we cannot meet with Him and not walk away different. For years I have heard people say, “prayer changes things.” They are absolutely right. I know. Because for 20 years now I have watched it change me. Am I perfect? Hardly. Far, far from it. But I am not who I was. And so, I continue to pray believing that prayer will continue to change me. And that, my friends, will alwys be the right choice.