Tuesday, July 04, 2006
So... Why Don't We Pray?
There's a scene at the end of the movie, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (or the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but the movie with Gene Wilder, not the creepy version with Johnny Depp which I didn't bother to see. But I digress...) In this scene, Charlie has been told he has won the grand prize, and he, Grandpa Joe, and Wonka get into the great glass elevator (Wonkavator, technically). The small passenger compartment has hundreds of buttons to press, each one corresponding to a different room in the factory.
Anyway, ol' Mr. Wonka tells Charlie something to the effect of, "You know, Charlie, I've pushed every button in this elevator except one. And I want you to press it now." So Charlie hits the button and the Wonkavator shoots out the top of the shaft and becomes a tiny, glass-encased hovercraft. Then there's the happy ending, and so on and so on. But I always found it odd that this eccentric candy-maker who could do pretty much whatever he wanted to do had actually tried everything but one little button on the elevator.
Why wouldn't he have pressed it at some point? In my mind, I've concocted all kinds of scenarios as to why Wonka kept his mitts off that button. Perhaps it would have given away some sort of secret about his identity to the public, or aroused the interest of his competitor, Slugworth. Certainly there must have been a good reason. Right? It's a perfectly good button. It seemed to work just fine. Why not use it?
Fantasies about chocolate-makers and oompa-loompas aside, I've found there's a button that many Christians seem reluctant to press as well. The prayer button.
Apparently it's not a new phenomenon. James chides the readers of his letter that "You do not have because you do not ask God." Or in the Wonka version, "You do not have because you never press the button." So, why don't we pray?
I don't buy the argument that we don't have time or that we don't know what to pray for or that we don't know we should pray. I've used all those excuses many times and I know they are nothing but empty excuses stuffed with rationalization. We know we're supposed to pray. To paraphrase the New Testament, even the heathen know that! Most times we know what we are to pray for. Needs and people come to our minds and to our attention often. I've even caught myself thinking, "I need to pray for that family," only to let it slide from my attention. And I know we're all incredibly busy, but there is always time to pray if we make the time.
So why don't we ever make the time? Why don't we follow through? Why do we leave prayer as the button we never press, the weapon in the arsenal we never deploy?
I want to explore that problem this week. In the meantime, help me out by offering your own experiences, excuses and explanations as well as those of others you know in the comments section here. Thanks!