[forthright] "Thank you, have a good day and come back."

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2007 08:45:27 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Fidelity

"Thank you, have a good day and come back."
by Mike Benson

To say that I like a good taco is something of an
understatement. I typically go by the local "Bell"
about three times a week for a late lunch. I tend
to order the same thing. Why? Well, because I can
eat it. My food allergies prevent me from
consuming certain foods, and a hard shell Taco
Supreme doesn't contain the wheat, which is
harmful to my system. But enough about my dietary

The same lady stands behind the counter. For
several months we've met across the cash register.
She's never looked me in the eye. She always says
the same thing after I've placed my order. Always.
ALWAYS. I've got it memorized. Obviously she does
too. "Your order number is... Thank you, have a
good day and come back." It's rote. She's said it
over and over. The statement has no meaning to me
... or evidently to her. It's agonizing to hear.
She's never smiled. She's never said anything
different. Even the inflection in her voice is the
same. I almost cringe when she says it now. It's
kind of like fingernails scratching on a
chalkboard. "Your order number is... Thank you,
have a good day and come back."

I do "come back," but not for the happy counter

I sometimes wonder if this is how God feels when
we pray. We're inclined to use the same words and
phrases and to make the same routine requests.
It's like the lady at the local fast food
restaurant. The order and wording is all too
similar. Does the Almighty feel about our prayers
like I feel about the lady's comments at TB? Does
He think, "Say something different!" "Put your
heart into it!" "Show some passion!" "Be sincere!"

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned, "And when
you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the
heathen do. For they think that they will be heard
for their many words" (Matthew 6:7). The phrase
"vain repetitions" is one word in the Greek and
refers to idle chatter.

It is easy to resort to idle chatter (e.g.
repetitious language) when we talk to God, isn't
it? That's because it demands little concentration
or mental effort. But there is a subtle danger of
falling into "pattern" prayer. If you spoke to
your spouse using the same, empty, insincere,
repetitive words on a daily basis, how would that
affect your marriage? Would you be closer to him
or her? Would there be an intimate verbal "tie"
that drew the two of you together? Of course not.
Since warm, genuine communication is an essential
key to a good marriage, how can we think that
poor, tedious communication will somehow enhance
our bond with the Father in heaven?  God is not
impressed with the mindless recital of spiritual-
sounding words; he is impressed and affected,
however, by earnest (Luke 18:2-7), heartfelt (2
Corinthians 12:7,8; Matthew 26:39-44), and
thoughtful prayers that flow from our inner souls
(Psalm 88:13; Philippians 4:6).

"What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the
spirit, and I will also pray with the
understanding..." (1 Corinthians 14:15a).

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