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Charlie Taught Me Something About Prayer
Andy Bustanoby
(C) January 1, 2005

     Charlie is a cat.  A big cat--twenty-two pounds.  If you know
     anything about cats, you know that you don't own a cat.  It owns

     The reason for this behavior is what psychologists call "operant
     conditioning."   This is something that cats are masters at.  When
     they want something, they will exhibit certain behavior to get you
     to respond.  When you respond the way they want, they repeat it to
     get the same response from you again and again.

     For example, Charlie, now thirteen-years-old, started training me
     many years ago.  It started when I was standing still, and he
     flopped down on his side in front of me and closed his eyes.  I
     happened to respond by rubbing his back with my foot.  He loved it.

     Ever since then, when I'm standing still, he flops on his side in
     front of me, and if I don't respond immediately, he looks at me as
     if to say, You know the drill!

     The other day I was reading the Book of Ephesians where Paul,
     talking about the work God has done in Christ says, "In whom we have
     boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him" (Eph.
     3:12).  The Greek grammar of this passage tells us that boldness and
     access are in a very close relationship.  Boldness is the internal
     attitude; access is the external reality.  We have boldness because
     we know we have access.

     After reading this and pondering it, I went into the kitchen for a
     bite to eat.  That was Charlie's signal that food might show up.  He
     came in, looked at me, and then looked at the pantry door where his
     food is kept, and meowed.  Yes, that meant, Okay, I eat too.  So I
     fed him.

     After eating and washing himself, he then walked to the garage door,
     looked at the doorknob, and meowed again.  That meant, Open the
     garage door.  I want to play out there.  Not having opposable
     thumbs, and unable to open the door, he knew I could.  Again, I
     accomodated him.

     These are just a few of the ways he has trained me.  But with
     boldness and access in prayer on my mind, I thought, That's what
     Charlie has.  He has lived with me for thirteen years and knows that
     he can come with boldness because he knows he has access to me.

     Suddenly, something dawned on me.  If a cat can come with boldness
     and access to a human being who loves him, communicate his needs and
     have them met, certainly we should be able to come with boldness and
     access to our Creator who loves us.  And what is more, I can do
     better than a cat.  I don't just look at the heavens and say, Meow.
     I actually can talk with my Creator.

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