I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. [Mark 11:24-25 (NLT)]
But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. [1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)]
While creativity is encouraged in both cooking and prayer, there are certain procedures for both that should be followed to ensure good results. For example, before a cook even starts food prep, his work surface, utensils, and hands should be clean. In prayer, instead of starting with clean bowls, spoons and hands, we wash ourselves of any resentment or anger and start with a forgiving heart.
Even the most creative chef knows there are some cooking rules that simply can’t be broken: egg yolks can’t get mixed in with whites in a meringue, fudge needs to be cooked only to the soft ball stage, and poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees. Prayer has rules, too. For example, a willing and obedient heart is a necessity. In addition, just as leavening of some kind must be added to any bread recipe, we must have faith in God and the power of our prayers. Without leavening, no matter how delicious the rest of the ingredients, the bread won’t rise. Without faith, no matter what we’ve said or how nicely we’ve said it, our prayers won’t rise to God’s ears!
Some recipes, like risotto, require patience and persistence in preparation and others, like a 20-pound turkey, take a long time to bake. We have to be patient and persistent in prayer as well and understand that results aren’t like instant potatoes—they take time. Furthermore, multi-tasking in the kitchen can often have disastrous results like mismeasured ingredients or burnt bread. Multi-tasking doesn’t work well in prayer either—we must be focused and committed. Just as pans should be greased so baked goods won’t stick, we need to lubricate our prayers with a large amount of humility if we want them to come out easily. A good chef knows to use only fresh wholesome ingredients. Self-righteousness is as vile to God as a moldy tomato or putrid fish and, like rancid nuts, will spoil any prayer.
A final requirement in any recipe is to season, taste, and season again, as often as necessary to get the flavor just right. A chef doesn’t offend a gastronome with bland or tasteless food; instead, he honors him with bold flavors. Our God is an awesome God, capable of anything and everything, and a true connoisseur of prayers. Let’s never insult Him with insipid or weak ones. Like a gourmet chef, we must be bold with our offerings. When cooking in God’s kitchen, let’s give Him everything we’ve got!