Ordering a Snack

I was on my way to eat at a friend's house, a gourmet cook of the nouvelle cuisine persuasion-she made exquisitely great food, beautifully presented, but usually not enough for my appetite. Those delicious little servings mocked me. I had missed lunch that day and was ravenous as I made my way to her new address. There was something missing in the directions and I was having a hard time finding her house.

As I drove around, famished and lost, I kept driving by a fast-food restaurant that specialized in hot dogs. The aroma emanating from the drive-thru food trough was having the same effect the sirens of the Greek myth had on the hapless sailors who sailed into their waters. I don't merely want a hot dog, I need a hot dog, I reasoned. She never serves enough food anyway. Why not have just a little snack to hold me over until I find her house?

I stopped to order a snack. But what to order? The menu was huge. After a panicky exchange with the disembodied voice from the speaker in the drive-thru, I settled on a regular hot dog, a kraut dog, and a chili dog. The hot dogs really aren't very big. And what's a hot dog without French fries?-a day without the sun, oatmeal raisin cookies without cold milk! So I ordered a large fries to cover the demands of the three hot dogs. Fries are salty and hot dogs are spicy, so I added a large soft drink to wash all this down. I felt much better.

When I finally found her house, she had prepared a wonderful meal. It was probably the best meal I didn't enjoy. I was so full, I even left food on the little plates.

A parable of prayer, this silly but true story. Or rather, a parable of prayerlessness. Why don't we pray? We don't pray for the same reason I couldn't enjoy that gourmet meal; we're stuffed in our spirits, full, overloaded, packed, soul-crammed-not with the Bread of Life, but with spiritual junk food. Before it is anything else, lack of prayer is a lack of hunger for God.

Used with permission from Deepening Your Conversation With God by Ben Patterson (c)1999 Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Book House Company. All Rights Reserved, p. 55-56.

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