Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Prayer: Introduction

Recently, the topic of prayer has come up quite a bit. Makes me think that God's trying to get my attention on the subject matter. Can't blame Him, can you? "Learn about talking to me." So, hopefully in the next few weeks, I'll have learned more about what it looks like to engage in conversation with the Lord. I've begun reading this book, Life in Christ. Reading this first chapter began this process of thinking about prayer. Lloyd-Jones says this one thing (on p. 16) that really hit me (and at first annoyed me). He says,

"Therefore, (after talking about the truths we know as believers in times of danger) in a situation of difficulty and of crisis, the first thing we must do is to make sure that we have grasped the New Testament teaching. I do not want to be controversial, and I am particularly anxious not to be misunderstood, but if I may put in a phrase, in order to call attention to what I have in mind, I would say that in a situation of crisis, the New Testament does not immediately say 'Let us pray'. It always says first, 'Let us think, let us understand the truth, let us take a firm hold of the doctrine.' Prayer may be quite useless and quite void. The Bible has a great deal to tell us about prayer and as to how it should be made. Prayer is not a simple thing in one sense; it may be very difficult. Prayer is sometimes an excuse for not thinking, an excuse for avoiding a problem or situation."

That last line left me irate when I first read it over. How can prayer be useless and void? But then I began to think about it-for about a week. How often have I made a struggle or issue larger or used prayer as a means for disobedience? When I know that there has been action needed to be taken and I've simply continued to pray about it out of fear? As if to confirm that I needed to pay attention to this, I randomly decided to listen to a sermon from Thaddeus Barnum at Church of the Apostles from July 12 entitled "Yes, Lord I will." In that sermon, he talked about the simplicity of obedience. "I don't have to pray about whether or not I should pay someone under the table, cheating the government," he says, "the Bible SAYS what I need to do."

Now, I want to be careful, thanks to a reminder today. He said, "I would just say, don't hold back because you think, 'oh ... I shouldn't be praying for this.' Look at the Psalms - David prays for plenty of things that he knows are true already. He recognizes his human inability to desire rightly or act rightly, and so he asks God for help. I'm not saying not to listen to what these sermons/books are saying, but do err on the side of complete disclosure to God instead feeling like you need to tip-toe about in your prayer life."

What I'm pretty sure Lloyd-Jones is not saying is that we shouldn't pray when we are worried, sad, just because we know that God is comforter, in control. But what I think he is saying is that we DO have access to the Lord's word and His truth. So rather than getting stuck in this pit of despair and agony, we can open His word to gain guidance-holding fast to truth. This is a very active relationship, I'm realizing.

These next few posts hopefully will include some of what I'm learning about prayer, in the hopes that it will bless and actually serve as a means for accountability for me. I'm going to look at different prayers in Scripture in the hopes of uncovering more about how to talk to this God who loves me. This next post (in the next few days) will take a look at Hannah's prayer. I've posted it below for your convenience. Thanks in advance for your patience with me as I go through this. I am slightly reluctant. But I've learned that reluctance in studying His ways and His truth usually means that that is exactly where I should be.

1 Samuel 2:

And Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.

2 “There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the
Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the
and on them he has set the world.

9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

1 comment:

Unknown said...

When someone is in love (maybe it is just infatuation, or maybe it is a deep abiding love) they want to be with that person. They want to talk and listen and spend time with that person.
I Believe sometimes we need to start out just sitting and praying for God to give us a deep abiding love for Him and for others. the kind of love that causes us to want to spend the time with Him. We need to both talk and listen, talk and listen.
To often prayer is a monologue and we do not do the listening.
I was on the u.c. Berkeley campus the other day. There was a demonstration going on between two opposing sides of an issue. I got into conversation with one of the demonstrators. This person was unwilling to give me a chance to respond to any of her questions before she would interrupt me with rhetoric. Finally I asked her if she wanted to have a dialogue or just a monologue. She slowed down and we were then able to talk.
James 1:19 states "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" We should apply this instruction also to our conversations with God, after all we are not just talking to a wall.