Ever see the Disney cartoon movie "Ratatouille"? In an early scene, the protagonist (a rat with a love of cooking) receives the following advice from his mentor, an enormously famous, successful, Parisian chef and restauranteur:
"Cooking is not for the faint of heart. You must be imaginative, strong! You must try things that may not work. You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true! Anyone can cook. But, only the fearless can be great!"
These now-familiar lines came drifting out of our family room as our children watched this movie the other day. When I heard this passage again for the third or fourth time, it struck me that this advice also could apply to our prayer life.
How often have we cowered in prayer, sought refuge in bland platitudes, or merely mouthed memorized words? How often have we allowed our minds to be distracted, to drift aimlessly, or to simply shrug and throw up our hands, baffled by what we perceived to be a lack of response to our (honestly) weak and lame attempts to communicate with the Almighty?
Be brave! Be strong! Be courageous!
Tell God your problems. Tell Him the gory details. Tell Him why you are frowning in frustration. Tell Him your needs. Tell Him your woes. Complain to Him!
Tell Him the most amazing thing your kid said or did today. Tell Him breathlessly how thrilled you are with your latest accomplishment at school or at work. Tell Him how happy you are that the new puppy finally got potty-trained. Rejoice with Him!
Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him how much you want to thank Him for the many blessings you enjoy. Tell Him He's the best dad ever. Tell Him every breath you take and every move you make is done all for the glory of Him. Praise Him!
Gush! Moan! Squeal! Whine! Clap! Cheer! Groan! Grin!
And then be still and know that He is God.
Listen for His voice.
When Elijah journeyed into the wilderness, he did not hear the voice of the Lord in the violent wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire. He heard God's voice in a nearly silent whisper (I Kings 19). And Elijah was humble before it.
For you see, God doesn't need you to tell Him all about your life. He doesn't need you to tell Him any of that. He already knows your wants, your needs, your joys and sufferings.
But, He wants you to tell Him. Just as an earthly parent listens with indulgent love to his child detailing a latest achievement, so too does God want you to love Him so much that He is the first person to whom you are dying to tell your latest triumph, tragedy, secret, or story. He wants you to seek His input, His ear, His advice. He wants you to talk to Him and consult with Him all day. He wants you to love Him so much that every corner, every aspect of your life becomes filled with your desire to tell Him, to converse with Him, to listen to Him.
To know, love, and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
Prayer is not for the
faint of heart. You must be imaginative, strong! You must try things
that may not work. You must not let anyone define your limits because
of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is
true! Anyone can pray. But, only the fearless can be great!
The one to Whom we sing, "How Great Thou Art!" is there. He is there waiting. For you. Always. Whether you approach Him boldly or timidly on any given day, go to Him. Seek His presence. Seek His counsel. Demand His attention.
And be humble, gracious, and thankful in receiving it.
Then soon, before you know it, before even the end of Lent maybe, you will be great in prayer. Great in the frequency of your contact with the Lord. Great in your confidence and trust in Him. Great in your example to your loved ones and children. Great in your love for He Who has given it all to you.
Be brave! Be strong! Be courageous!
Be assured of God's love for you. Now put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a great catch.