Prayer


prayer4It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.  Jesus tells us to pray for the things in the Lord’s Prayer as though we are pounding on a locked door until it finally opens (Lk. 11:5-8).  We are to persistently, boldly, relentlessly present before God our needs in line with His will.

But He already knows them.  And He already desires to meet them (vv. 11-13). 

So why is God telling us to badger Him with the same requests, over and over again?  The whole enterprise seems rather futile before a omniscient, omnipotent, and loving God.

Surely it can’t be a form of divine manipulation.  If only we say this same prayer 30 times, THEN God is bound to grant it.  What hubris to even consider such human power over almighty God.

Surely it can’t be just a hoop to jump through.  The overall tendency of Jesus’ life and teaching seems to me to be a simplification of our relationship with God rather than imposing various new rules or laws or red tape.

Surely it can’t be to provide God with any new knowledge.  He’s God.  He already knows whether or not “we really mean it” or “really need it” or…

Surely it can’t be to change us.  I mean, we already know what we need.  We already know when we need it.  And how we need it.  And what’s best for us spiritually.  And all of the various implications.

Or, maybe not.  Definitely not.

So, as I see it, I’m left with one solution.  Persistent prayer is to change us in some way rather than change God in any way.

What’s the intended change?  I don’t know.  It’s probably different for different people in different places with their relationship with God.  Truly, each of us needs to be shaped a bit differently in order to grow in love of God and others.  To grow spiritually.

Maybe it’s to widdle away some pride or illusion of control.  Maybe it’s to force a greater dependence on God.  Or feelings of frustration that eventually boil over into greater honesty and surrender in prayer.  Or maybe a million other heart-changes.

Through persistent prayer, usually more gradually than suddenly, God shapes our hearts.  Somehow spiritual work is being done on you each time you pray it.  The you that pounds on the door the 50th time is probably not the same you who pounded on it the 1st time.

And that change is invaluable.

Have you experienced this?  How have you changed through the course of praying persistently for a particular need?  If so, please post it as a response…

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prayer1It’s becoming more and more apparent as we journey through the book of Luke.

I suppose any saint would tell you the same thing.  But it is one thing to be told, and another to experience it for yourself. 

Almost every passage in Luke hammers on the theme of surrender.  Of total submission to God.  Just look at the last few posts: surrender to God life’s “details,” sacrifice life’s daily boring work, submit to the heart of God’s law of love, surrender pride, and on and on.

And here we are in Luke 11:1-4, the famous “Lord’s Prayer.”  Guess what big theme jumped out at us through our discussion yesterday?

Yeah, submission.

It seems prayer as Jesus taught is a lot about surrender.

When reading the Lord’s Prayer though the lens of surrender:

“Father, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come.”  Immediately we’re taught to be Other-focused, God-focused.  Prayer is not ultimately about us.  It is not our kingdom come…our plans, ideas, desires, schemes.  God’s Kingdom is about the divine transformation of us and our world, bit by bit, to be fully here in power at the end of the age.

To truly, genuinely pray for God’s Kingdom is to pry open our fists and to release whatever it is that we’ve been grasping to God’s perfect will.  That’s surrender.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”  We are taught to seek God for our being, our needs.  We are to trust Him and surrender our illusion of self-sufficiency, pride, and various other “idols.”

“Forgive us…as we forgive…”  A surrender of grudges, resentment, dark spots, and unhealthy relationships.

“And lead us not into temptation.”  A surrender of our future to God’s faithful guidance.  By this point in the prayer we are in a state of full submission and we certainly don’t desire to leave.  God, please keep us here!

We know these truths.  We’ve heard them again and again.  Do we  live these truths and not merely mentally assent?

The work of total surrender is tough, life-long work.  It is heart work.  And our talks with God, our communication, our prayers aid us in this endeavor.

Well, they don’t just aid us.  They are necessary. 

Do we want to REALLY live?  Then we must learn to pray.  And we must learn to submit.

Or maybe prayer and submission are really the same thing.

talking-with-godHonesty is key.  At least that’s what I’ve found with my relationship with God.

Something happens when I tell God what He already knows: the broken pieces of me, the short-comings, the struggles, the disconnects between what I deeply desire and how I actually live.

My relations with Him swtich from a fake intimacy to real intimacy.  I don’t experience condemnation, but a love that touches the deepest parts of me and encourages me to continue to pursue Him, even with my faults.  No longer do I ignore the so-called elephant in the room, but acknowledge it openly with God and then go from there.

Perhaps the transformation could be called freedom.  Freedom from fakery, facades, avoidance, guilt, and that nagging feeling that I’m not truly being real.

But God is real and He wants our real selves.  Honestly.

Have you experienced this?  What have you learned about God when you withhold or share your hurts and faults with Him?

If you have prayer requests, please post them here.  And if you’re on this page without prayer requests, take 30 seconds and pray for somebody…