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Car Wash: What kind of wash describes your prayer life?

“Come tome, all who labor and areheavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, andlearn from me, for I amgentle and lowly in heart, andyou will find rest for your souls.30 Formy yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV


A few weeks ago, my daughter in law sent us a video of our granddaughter experiencing her first drive thru car wash. It was fun to watch her expressions with the different sounds and sights as the car slowly was pushed through. She was captivated by the journey of suds and bubbles. The next day, my wife and I were having a conversation about prayer and worship. While talking, I thought about my granddaughter’s experience.

Too often our prayer lives lack the time and surrender needed to keep our hearts clean and ready to pray Kingdom prayers. We often come to church with hearts marred by the culture chaos and instead of anticipating the soaking and worshipful experience with one another, we show up for a quick wash and go on down the road for another week. My wife and I talked about the importance of our daily time with the Lord cleaning our lives with His Word verses when we are busy and go for the quick blast from a power wash in a bay. Let me explain the difference between the drive through soak and the power wash blast.

Our prayer lives and intimate worship experiences need to be more like the slow car wash that has the different stations that soak, brush and dry your car clean. A touchless car wash can do the same thing. Some say they are safer for your car, but I think you get the point. You are resting and waiting. I know when I go through a car wash like this, it feels good to put it in neutral and let someone else drive for a little bit. When my wife is with me, we have conversations and even comment of the colors of the soap and the big strips that act as a rag to scrub the car clean. When I hear the driers kick in, I know it is about time to put it back in gear and get going.

This is what I like about my devotional life. Maybe yours is like this too. You enjoy the slow process of allowing the Word of God to wash you clean. You give yourself time to respond in prayer, confession, and repentance. This moment can lead to worship where the Holy Spirit soaks you with the anointing and you sense His presence near. The whole time you are moving forward, but the effort is spirit driven, and you are better on the other side. You come away refreshed and clean. I have heard it said and I agree, a clean car seems to drive that much better or at least you think so.

Now compare the drive through car wash with the bay type wash. It is a totally different cleaning experience. I use both by the way. Sometimes you simply need to blow off the dirt and get going. In the bay type car wash you pull in, get out of your car, and drop quarters in the machine on the wall or, these days, swipe your card. The thing about these kind of car washes is that they use a timer. You get so much time for the money you pay. If you are like me, my goal is to beat the timer and not give another quarter or swipe to that controller on the wall. Every time I hear the beeper on the wall telling me I have a minute to go, I assess the situation. Where am I in my cleaning experience? Do I have the time on the wall to finish? In all honesty it can be a little stressful.

I compare this method of car wash to the quick hits of prayer as we rush through our devotions before work or on the way to work. We listen to the Bible like a podcast as we maneuver through traffic. These times are not bad. I do them occasionally when my mornings don’t go as planned or I have something on my schedule that does not allow me to spend more quality time. The point is that both can be used, but one is slower and less stressful while the other can contain pressure.

Think about your worship experience at church. How do we approach it? Have we entered a bay and are ready for a quick power wash and hope Pastor gets us out by noon? Or do we come to worship, abide, and linger? Do we come and put our hearts and will in neutral and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, speak God’s Word to us and respond at the altar in prayer? I think the method we live in, participate the most in determines our depth and our fruitfulness in the Kingdom.

When Jesus says “Come”, it is an invitation to sit and listen to Him teach. It is an opportunity to ask our questions, listen to His responses, and most importantly, get rid of the religious performance and aerobics. The people who Jesus is talking to were loaded down with the religious “step” they needed to take to be good and for God to smile on them. It was wearing them out. Later Jesus tells them to not worry like the pagans do about what they will wear, eat, or drink. He says that the Father knows what we need and will provide. The yoke and the burden Jesus refer to is our self dependance and performance. He wants to strip that away. He does not want us approaching Him like a deadline to meet. Deadlines make us nervous like the beeping coming from the timer on the bay wall. Rest is what happens when we come to soak, get scrubbed and ready for what is ahead.

As you move forward in your relationship with Jesus, maybe it is good to identify what your prayer and devotional life looks like. Is it soaking or power washing? Again, neither are bad, just more of soaking could bring your personal and corporate experience with Jesus to a whole new level.

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