And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. —Philippians 1:9, 10 (NIV)
Because I was raised in a minister’s home and I come from a long line of ministers in my family, I was constantly exposed to prayer. Morning prayers, noonday prayer services, evening prayers and prayer bands were part of my weekly regimen. Also, my brother and I had to memorize many prayers, some of which were found in the Christian Bible.
And, besides my brother and me, most Christians are very familiar with what is generally referred to as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). This prayer is recited often in Christian meetings and on special occasions such as weddings and funerals. There is one portion of that prayer that says, “Give us today our daily bread…” and continues, “Forgive our trespasses…”
It seems to me that most sincere, committed Christians are concerned more with the Lord giving us provisions for our present than we are with the Lord granting us pardon for our past. But it’s helpful to note and know that prayer engages the processes of receiving and eliminating.
Receiving basic human needs of rations, raiment, and rest is part of the human experience but so is emptying. Without emptying, there is no place or room to receive.
Dr. Katurah Jenkins Hall, my colleague and contributing editor to my book of inspirations, meditations and affirmations called Think on These Things offered some very insightful and meaningful nuggets using the analogy of prayer as a way of emptying the trash. The remainder of this article is a paraphrase of that analogy.
If you use electronic mail, chances are you receive junk mail at times cleverly disguised so that you might think it is from someone you know. It may start with a friendly “Hello, friend” which entices you to open it, only to find that it is from a complete stranger interested in getting you to purchase something, make a donation or participate in a scheme designed to get your banking information or Social Security number. After reading the first line, you recognize that it is junk mail and you automatically hit the delete key. When you hit “delete,” the mail goes to a digital trash can and collects there until you empty the trash.
In your walk as a Christian, you will be bombarded with things that entice you that are seemingly from a friendly, harmless source with a righteous motive. Upon closer inspection, you must be discerning enough to know what is best for you and hit “delete.”
Even after you have removed that ungodly thought, that tempting person or that tantalizing distraction, don’t forget to also empty the trash.
The trash is the accumulated junk in your unconscious that takes up space in your memory and is easy to access, especially when you are searching the files of your mind for comfort or reassurance.
We must regularly search our minds, hearts and spirits, bringing the unconscious to our consciousness, acknowledge, confess and delete those things that are ungodly.
Don’t forget to empty the trash.
Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com
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