If you grew up in the 80s, you know this phrase. Even my college-aged children know the phrase. The phrase is from a classic teenage movie, the Karate Kid. Mr. Miyagi uttered the immortal words while training Daniel San.
I was at a carwash the other day, and I noticed one of the detailers waxing a large, black SUV. When the coat of wax was applied, the vehicle looked like the exterior stucco wall of an old house. Yet, as the detailer wiped off the wax, ah, the sheen on the polished surface contrasted magnificently against the waxed area. The SUV was transformed right before my eyes.
Wax on, wax off. That’s kind of how things are with Christians, don’t you think? The gunk that covers our life--be it pain, fear, sin, bad habits, deception, disbelief, etc.--are like wax that covers the vehicle. It makes the vehicle unpresentable and even undesirable. Yet, when the Master’s hand wipes off the wax, the original factory paint resurfaces. We are cleansed and renewed by the Master Detailer.
I know that whatever gunk I have in my life will be wiped away so that I can be what I was designed to be. Wax on isn’t the end of our story--wax off is.
Whatever that you are ashamed of, whatever gunk that sits on top of your true self, ask God to wipe them off. Wax is on, but it will come off when the Master lays His hand on you. Your beautiful self, hidden beneath the gunk, will be visible to the world thanks to the Master Detailer.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
I was brought up in a Buddhist family. I remember frequenting temples, bowing and praying to golden figures. I remember hearing from my mother that Buddha will open his eyes and acknowledge my prayer if I bowed 1000 times. Talk about “earning a favor” from a god!
I am glad that God of Christianity does not require certain forms or rituals of prayer. Of course, I am well aware of the various forms or types of prayer mentioned in the Bible. But, there is no specific requirement that says you have to bow 1,000 times, crawl all the way to a temple, repeat mantras over and over, etc. in order to get your prayers answered.
What Jesus taught was not about the physical attributes of prayer. What He emphasized were the attitude behind prayer, what to specifically pray for, and how to align our heart to God’s will. He also taught that God hears us because He cares. God knows my heart, what I'm concerned about, and what is best for me beforehand.
I want to share with you a few things that might help you with your prayer life.
First, prayer works. It has worked for me, and it works for billions and billions of people all over the world. It worked in the past, it works today, and it will continue to work in the future. We cannot deny that prayer works if we’re honest about all the big and small prayers that are answered every single day.
Second, many of our prayers are not answered because they are not aligned to the Father’s will and plan. Too many of us lift up prayers that are illogical, irresponsible, and ill-timed: “Let me win the lottery,” “I want a Ferrari,” “Help me get an A on the test” etc. Which of us as parents would answer such requests made by our children? Irresponsible prayers are indicative of our spiritual, emotional, and relational immaturity. Such prayers will not be answered. Prayers that God answers are those that are aligned to His will and purpose: building, edifying, expanding, and blessing His Kingdom and people. If our prayers are aligned to His will, we know He will answer us.
Third, answers to our prayer may come in the forms of “No”, “Yes”, “Wait”, and “I’ve got something better for you.” Obviously, “No” and “Yes” are pretty easy to discern. “Wait” and “I’ve got something better for you” are difficult to process because patience is required. My experience tells me that God’s timing is usually “later” than mine. Honestly, that shouldn’t surprise any of us since our time-frame is pretty much now or yesterday. When He tells us to wait, it’s usually because He has something better in store for us—He makes our waiting, well, worth the wait.
Fourth, we must keep in mind that prayer does not change His mind but ours. In many instances, our desired answers change as we keep on praying. Over time, we begin to understand His time-frame or His will more clearly. Sometimes, we simply know that God will answer our prayer according to His will, and we “move on” to other prayer topics.
Fifth, let’s not say, “Well, I’ve tried everything else, so all I can do is pray.” That relegates prayer to the last option. Let’s turn prayer into the first option, something to do before doing anything else. Praying first (1) respects and honors God, (2) invites and welcomes His direction, and (3) attests to our confidence in Him. Let’s not use prayer as the last resort--pray and seek His wisdom first and foremost.
All in all, though prayer doesn’t work the way we want it to, it works and works well according His will. We may not get exactly what we’re asking for, but God typically answers with something better. Remember, He is not a genie in a bottle--He is not into granting wishes. He is willing and able to meet all of our needs, but He does so according to His pleasure and plan. He is a prayer-answering Father, a loving and kind and generous Heavenly Father.
So, talk to Him. Lift up your prayers to Him. Wait on Him. Expect His answers and experience God who desires the very best for you.