Monday, August 25, 2008

Form Letters to God

Not long ago, I received the following message, written by Jon Walker (one of my favorite devotional writers). It was very impacting and I must admit...convicting.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

There’s an amusing story of a business executive who, at the end of a long day of travel, climbs into bed at a hotel. As he begins to nod off, he feels something crawling up his legs.

Leaping up and fumbling with the light, he throws back the sheets to discover the bed is full of bugs. Changing rooms was not enough to satisfy the man’s disgust. When he got home, he wrote a letter of complaint to the hotel’s corporate headquarters.

Weeks later, he received a reply directly from the president of the company:

“We are absolutely appalled that a man of your position and reputation should have had such an experience in one of our hotels. We are deeply, deeply embarrassed, and we assure you that we are working diligently to correct this problem. It will never happen again.”

As he read the reply, the businessman felt great! The hotel management had heard him; they’d committed to making a change; and now every customer would benefit from the businessman’s initiative.

As he folded the letter, a small Post-it® note floated to the floor. Picking it up, the man saw, in a hand-written scrawl, “Send this guy the bug letter.”

Have you been sending “bug letters” to God? Form letters that cover any concerns and commitments between you and the Father; standardized responses to God’s commands, directions, or promptings; a file full of templates that allow you to walk by sight and not by faith?

It’s easy to say you’ll be a more supportive husband and a more attentive father. Will you allow God to lead your transformation, or will you send him a form letter?

It’s easy to say you’ll be a more loving mother and a more encouraging wife. Will you allow God to lead your transformation, or will you reach into the file cabinet for another form letter? Don’t waste God’s grace, my friend. Let him transform you. Let him teach you to walk by faith and not by form letters or ritual reactions.

· God is not surprised – He knows the intent of your heart and the truth of your priorities. He knows when you’ve sent him a form letter. His desire is not to condemn you, but to grow you. What form letter to God will you tear up today?

· Be authentic – Speak to God from the depths of your heart. Tell him about your fears, your hurts, your dark places, your sins – and allow him to be your Heavenly Father.

· Jesus is personal – Jesus doesn’t keep you at a distance, thinking of you as just another standard, typical, “templated” believer. He lives in you and guides you, and you access his power through faith: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

Lord, may I not waste your grace by sending "form letter prayers." The price you paid was far too high that I should treat you as I often have. I want so much to walk by faith, to be changed. Do a work in my heart, Father. I want to always show you the love, reverence and respect you so deserve. May it be so, Lord Jesus...Amen.
See yourself in this story? Consider this...


Andrew Clarke said...

I think this is a good post. I'd have to admit it applies to me. Sometimes I confuse 'pray without ceasing' with shooting of 'memos to God'. In fact once in prayer I apologised to my Heavenly Father because I'd been talking to Him as if He was my secretary. Yes, I need to mean it and remember who we are speaking too. Blessings.

Joyful said...

Convicting! Just this morning the Lord spoke to my heart afresh, that some of my prayers had become 'rote' and that I needed to spend some real time with Him. I got down on my knees, seeking His forgiveness and pouring out my heart in sincerity. I don't want my prayer life to be 'habit' but transforming.

Thanks for this encouragement,

Cheryl said...

Hmmm...Am I guilty of this at times? Something to think about. I don't want a "form letter" type relationship with God.

Thanks for posting this!

Have a great week!

Laurie Ann said...

Very powerful devotion! I will definitely be careful against "form letters" to God! Thank you so much for sharing this.

Krista said...

This post really ministered to me today. As I struggle with the stuff of this world; I long to obedient and changed. Sometimes it's so hard. "The things I do not want to do; this is what I do..." It's so frustrating sometimes when I catch myself in a cycle and think "how in the world did I get so caught up?" I catch myself sending those "form" letters to God.

What a refreshing word you shared today! I am encouraged to press on.

Signing original letters,

Tricia said...

What a great post, it provokes some definite searching of the heart regarding my relationship with my Savior and the way I communicate with Him, thanks so much for sharing!


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Immediate conviction as I read. I know there is something I need to do in response.

What a wonderful teaching. Thanks.


Amydeanne said...

my God is personal... yes He is! Thanks for this beautiful post!

and my puppy
She's a cockapoo! Minature though.. so she's about 8-10lbs.

hehe wanna buy a puppy? lol

actually too bad you didn't live close, i'd say come over and see them!

Edie said...

Wow what a great analogy. I so hate form letters and when people read off of cue cards as though they are not speaking to another human being. And this is what is considered "customer service" these days.

It boils my blood when it happens to me but I have to admit it... there are times when I'm just reading off the cue card to God. O Lord forgive me and thank you for this reminder.

Susan said...

Wow...this one sure GOT ME!!!

Thanks Tracy for passing this one on!


Sheryl said...

hmmm...i wonder if this could part of what i have been writing about? have i been sending form letters and that is why it feels as though i cannot pray? i am not sure, but thank you for giving me something to think about.

also, i want to tell you how fun it was to look through the slide show of your son. i have a just a few years until i send my first one off and i am cherishing each moment i can.

praying for your family,