Monday, February 18, 2008

Back to School... Part 3

Back to With Christ in the School of Prayer again... One of the things I love about this book is that it doesn't primarily teach me about prayer, it encourages me to pray. I trust that perhaps you're thinking that way as well. Most people have a sense that prayer is a good thing. It's frequently mentioned, especially in times of difficulty - that is as it should be, because it is in when we realize our woeful inability to meet the need of the hour that our ordinary sentiments seems so, well, shallow and hollow.

Perhaps you were listening to the news this last week when the NIU shootings happened. I live in northern Illinois, and we have connections to NIU... and as parents of a college student, I can only begin to start to imagine what happens in the mind of a parent during a tragedy of that magnitude. So when someone, meaning well, says "You're in my thoughts," I appreciate the sentiment but it doesn't really do much to meet the need.

If, on the other hand, though, someone says "I'm praying for you," consider the audacity of that statement: They are saying that they have access to the God of the Universe, that they are daring to enter His presence and are speaking to Him (the author of time, space and the keeper of all eternity, the judge of the entire world, the one with whom ALL must ultimately deal) about this very circumstance! WOW! If it really is that (and I understand that it is EXACTLY that), prayer is a HUGE deal and an INCREDIBLE privilege.

In this "Model Prayer" Murray has pointed out - so far - that it isn't just that all powerful deity that invites us into conversation... He is our Father, and we are loved as dearly loved children if we've been adopted into His family. Oh, and just in case the "familial relationship" leads one of His children to an inappropriate familiarity, we are reminded that Our Father is Holy and that His Glory is to be our Primary priority.

He is Our Father, so we can approach Him. Who could have more access to someone than their child? We are family, so we can draw near.

He is Holy - it is His Name and Character - so we understand Him as He really is. This One we pray to isn't a god of our imagination... we must come to Him as He is. And He is Awesome! But when we pray, do we share our Father's agenda, or are we just all about what we want from Him?

Here's the question for today: Does God's agenda grip you? When was the last time you prayed from God's perspective? That's the subject of today's portion of the lesson. (By the way, this is the shortest of the sections, but if you think about it, perhaps the most challenging. Consider what life would be like when God answers this request - Hey, that's a great place for a comment, so weigh in!)

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"‘Thy kingdom come.’ The Father is a King and has a kingdom. The son and heir of a king has no higher ambition than the glory of his father’s kingdom.

In time of war or danger this becomes his passion; he can think of nothing else. The children of the Father are here in the enemy’s territory, where the kingdom, which is in heaven, is not yet fully manifested. What more natural than that, when they learn to hallow the Father-name, they should long and cry with deep enthusiasm: ‘Thy kingdom come.’

The coming of the kingdom is the one great event on which
    • the revelation of the Father’s glory,
    • the blessedness of His children, and
    • the salvation of the world
depends. On our prayers too the coming of the kingdom waits. Shall we not join in the deep longing cry of the redeemed: ‘Thy kingdom come’? Let us learn it in the school of Jesus."

4 comments:

Shiloh Guy said...

Wes, your post raises a couple of thoughts.

What about all the times I have told someone that I will be praying for them and then don't? Or, what about all the times I have said I will pray when I actually have no intention of doing so? Can we be honest here? Haven't we all done that? In that case, I am telling someone that I have access to the Almighty Sovereign Creator and that I am going to plead with Him on their behalf. I am also telling the Almighty that I will be speaking to Him about this person. Then, for some reason, intentionally or unintentionally, I don't? This is precisely why I have stopped telling people that I will be praying for their specific request unless I can stop RIGHT THEN and pray.

I pray the Lord's Prayer at least three times a day. I simply cannot pray, "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," without pausing to ask myself, "Do you really mean that?" Praying God's will has been the most painful prayer in my life. It has cost me more than I can describe. It causes me more stress and rips at my faith more than any other prayer I can think of. Yet, it is the only right way to pray.

Makes you wonder how we ever dared to come before the throne so carelessly!

Always your brother,
Dave

Doulos Christou said...

You're right, Dave. If we had a real sense of who we were addressing (or ignoring), how would we really act? Is it possible that we use God and the privilege of prayer to escape a boring conversation??

I'm praying that, more and more, I come to understand the reality - and the blessing - of seeing His will done in my life just like it is in Heaven. The missed opportunities for that will be the things I most grieve when I get to heaven... (will those be the tears that He wipes away)?

BTW, your comment at BlueCollar still has me thinking... (see my response that I'll put up next!)

S. Pickins said...

This lesson is one that has hit me the most since starting on staff at our church--so many needs from so many people being shared, and while I "want" to say "I'll be praying for you" I often don't say it because I know I just might not. I think I'm slowly learning this lesson: to be a person of action and not just words--like Shiloh said, pray in the moment. One other thing that has helped me is to keep a prayer request journal, where I write needs as I hear of them and then can remember and actually spend time with God on them during my prayer time. This is a great reminder for me...thanks for the study.

Doulos Christou said...

Welcome S... sorry I've been tied up this week and haven't had opportunity to respond!