Prayer & Turtles

Otis, my favorite turtle

Yesterday, Kristian read a book about turtles to her class. Then the kids wanted to know more about turtles. So on Kristian’s request I took Otis, my favorite little chelonian friend, on a field trip this morning. They loved watching Otis as I talked about him. They wanted to know about his shell, his feeding habits, his tail, etc. (By the way, if anyone is worried, I never let the kids touch Otis, or get close to him. I know all about Salmonella.)

After a couple of minutes I finished talking, and Kristian gave them an opportunity to ask questions. “Raise your hands if you have questions,” she said.

The first child said, “One time, my mom saw a turtle on the road.”

Another said, “Some turtles can bite.”

A third added, “I have pet crickets.”

The so-called question-and-answer time did not last long before my wife cut off the conversation. I’ve worked with little kids enough that I’m used to that by now: you open the floor for questions, and it suddenly becomes story time. Their stories. Sometimes it can be irritating.

Then why do we treat God that way in our prayers? I would suspect that, for many of us, most of our prayer time is spent talking about ourselves—or at the very least, things we want or need. In prayer, we have a direct link to Almighty God, yet we spend the majority of time doing all the talking, instead of listening to Him.

Shouldn’t we spend more of our prayer time seeking what God wants to tell us, instead of what we want to tell Him? There’s nothing wrong with sharing our cares and concerns with God—the problem arises when our prayer life is limited to such exercises.

I am just as guilty as anyone and I need to stop monopolizing the conversation.

We could all benefit from more prayer time spent focusing on Who He is—and glorifying Him for it—and not just what we need.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to God, or with asking for Him to meet our needs, or interceding on others’ behalf. But we must keep things in balance. He is God: who He is and what He has to say matters!

“You go near and hear all that the LORD our God may say, and tell us all that the LORD our God says to you, and we will hear and do it” (Deuteronomy 5:27, NKJV).