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Prayer Is An End

If you’ve ever heard the story of Mary and Martha, you probably heard someone tell you that people (women?) are of two different types. There’s the Mary-type who like to do the learning and teaching and so on; and then there are the Martha-types who like to do practical service type things more in the background.

But that’s not really what’s going on here.

Actually, if you read the story, you’ll find that when Martha comes to Jesus upset that her sister is sitting at Jesus’ feet and not helping her with dinner, Jesus says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” In other words, it’s not so good to be doing what Martha was doing. Martha should have been doing what Mary was doing.

And that’s not to say that practical service is less important than studying or learning or even teaching. That still misses the point. The point isn’t about doing stuff. It’s about anxious, distracted, troubled doing. Martha’s hard work, while a genuine expression of her love for Jesus, became a distraction from what was really important—Jesus himself and her relationship with him.

You see, she was spending all this time doing for Jesus when what Jesus really wanted was her. She was busy trying to serve Jesus while Jesus was all the while trying to serve her.

All of this to say, yesterday, we talked about how prayer was the means to an end, a way to get things done, to accomplish things we couldn’t otherwise get accomplished.

But prayer isn’t just the primary way we get things done, it’s also the primary way that we relate to God. Prayer is spending time at the feet of Jesus. It’s the one thing that’s necessary, because it’s the way that we commune with God. It’s Mary’s chosen portion, you might say. In other words, prayer isn’t just a means to an end, it’s an end in itself.

Pray with me. Jesus, we want to sit at your feet, listening and learning from you. Please meet us in our times of prayer so that we can enjoy your presence and be strengthened by you. Help us not to see you as a means to an end, but as the end itself. For you are our portion. Thank you, Lord. In your name we pray, Amen.

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