Thursday, May 30, 2013

Did you think to pray?

Prayer is such a thorny matter.  It is hard work. It's revealing work.  It's brainy work; rationalism says, “Why bother to ask an omniscient God for what He knows you need?”  It's humbling.  It's not easy.  Yet it is a simple matter, even if it is not easy. 

So simple that Christ could give us a pattern to follow.  In fact, we have the Lord's Prayer in 2 places in Scripture (Matt. 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4).  We have His prayer in Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36-43).  We have Daniels prayer for the nation in Daniel 9:3-19.  Examples of prayer are set before us in many places for our edification.  And as for that rationalistic objection - though there may be a truth to it, it is fatalism. 

Fatalism is a cancer to true faith and we must not let our faith be hi-jacked by it.  We do not serve a God of mere logic.  He may be grasp-able, however, we must not let our own understanding of Him get in the way of who He is actually.  Consider the following: Does He choose some to be saved, completely apart from their actions, and pass over others justly?  Yes.  Does that mean we do not plead with Him for our own souls?!  Not on your life!  “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)  The God I serve is not capricious or fatalistic in any way.  He desires us to ask Him - just as a father, whose intent previously determined, was to get ice cream for his children.  As fathers we love to reward our children with a positive answer - when asked aright.  How much more the Holy Righteous God of the universe desires to be asked?  Not in some patronizing manner, but from a spirit provoked to action.  This provocation may be from His Spirit or even as the petitioner considers the very nature of His character and responds to that.  And He is pleased by this.  Indeed, He is honored by this.  And that is just the point.

And we have even more warrant to pray – Matt 6:8b answers the rationalistic person’s objection plainly enough.  "…For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."  Yet - we are commanded to pray.  We need not treat Him as some cheap idol, a god which must be appeased, like some second rate deity whose omnipotence must be stroked every so often.  God is not like a man.  He is the great I am, and needs nothing from me.  He is not some genie whose lamp I must rub just the right way or I get nothing.  He knows both what I will ask for, and what I really need.  He even knows when the best time and way to answer is.
Our problem is we are too much into personal idolatry.  He doesn't answer us when or how we want, and we cannot control Him. (see James 4)

Let us resolve to come to Him humbly, laying down all our expectations.  Do ask.  But do so in a manner honoring to Him.  Ask expecting - because He is good.  He may give us something other than what we ask or expect - but that is exactly the answer we need right now.

Lord, help us to pray.   Amen.
(Here is an e-book by R.C.Sproul on prayer - I think its free!  )

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