Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More On Prayer

These are some recent thoughts on prayer.

On placing an emphasis on prayer as the "number one priority" in the believers' life:

We are to "pray without ceasing" but that is the outflow of our growing
relationship with our loving God. In a marriage relationship, it would
be silly for a husband to say, "My number one Priority in my marriage is
to talk to my wife." If he never listened and only talked, she might soon
leave him. He instead needs to love her by getting to know her better,
listening, spending time, praising her, doing the things that make her happy. This holds true with our relationship with Christ -it is a reciprocal, loving
relationship.

Sunday, Pastor Charlie played a clip from Bruce Almighty where Bruce goes to heaven and meets God. God asks Bruce to pray and Bruce starts out using "church language" (thees and thous). God stops him and tells Bruce to tell Him what is really on his heart. Bruce tells God from his heart that he wants his girl to truly find happiness and the love of a man who will love her the way she truly deserves to be loved. God's reply? "Now, that's a prayer."

Our public prayer life is not some sort of test of spirituality or fitness to be a worker in His kingdom. The most bizarre prayer I ever heard was from a former Associate Pastor praying on cable TV, "Thy throne, Oh God is so great and powerful that should all the armies of the world should assail against Thee , Oh God, it should have as much effect as the faint mist on the distant Rock of Gilbraltar." While the prayer was true, it did not reflect the way the man normally spoke or lived.

We should not boast about how much we pray in private either -most modern Christians cannot even compete in terms of time spent in prayerwith those giants of the faith that prayed for hours and hours before they began their day (James was called "Old Camel Knees" from praying so much). We also do not often practice the accompaning spiritual discipline of fasting either. When we broadcast to others our private prayer practices (except to encourage the people for whom we are praying), there is far too much temptation to judge, "Ooh she's praying", or "tsk, tsk, she's not" -it's all that "don't do your deeds before men" thing. Jesus tells us not to.

Paul, when he does pray for believers, lists "knowing and comprehending the Lord Jesus Christ and His love" as being the most important thing that he desires for them. (Eph 1 & 3.) Using the words of Jesus Himself in John 15, we are to "abide (or remain) in Him and His love". Only when we are first abiding in Him can we "ask whatever we wish and it will be given you."
Jesus further explains that abiding means obeying His word.
In Acts 2:42 the disciples were" devoted to the Apostles' TEACHING,
FELLOWSHIP, BREAKING OF BREAD, AND PRAYER." (prayer is listed 4th).

On "prayer is powerful, it is our weapon against Satan..." :

In "our battle against spiritual forces" we are told repeatedly to "stand firm" in the power of God. Prayer is not listed as part of the armor of God, but once fully outfitted ,we are to pray in the Spirit with alertness at all times for the saints. The only offensive weapon listed is the Sword, the Word of God. In fact, we are told merely "to resist the devil and he will flee"; Jesus resisted Satan's temptation by THE WORD OF GOD.

There seem to be many people in evangelical circles who appear to me to be taking a somewhat "magical" view of prayer as if somehow the frequency, content or fervency was what made prayer effective. In a recent conversation with a friend. we talked about prayers resembling more of an "incantation" rather than actual pouring out to God of our heart's desires.

The power of prayer rests in Who we are talking with, not in the act itself. (this is what separates Christianity from Shamanism and other false religions; let us certainly not adopt their view of prayer.) We have a conversation with an all-powerful God. We cut off that conversation when we are not "being transformed by the renewing of our minds, not being conformed to image of the Son." It is then we are powerless and no amount of prayer, unless it is confessional, can change that.

Bottom line:
Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue that is a reflection of a healthy relationship with our God. Prayer is not powerful words, but words with a powerful God. Abiding with Him and becoming like Him should be the things that gets our priority.

2 Comments:

  • At Wed Oct 05, 12:01:00 PM PDT , Blogger Laura said...

    It is interesting to look at what Paul tells them to pray for in Ephesians 6. Note especially: "... that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak."

    Clearly, if there is any weapon against evil, that weapon is speaking God's Word boldly. In this situation, prayer is simply the plea for the courage to do what is right.

    Well said, my friend.

    Now, if only they will hear...

     
  • At Thu Oct 06, 12:29:00 PM PDT , Blogger Laura said...

    I posted a picture of a poster for Biola's Day of Prayer. It summarizes your point rather well.

     

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