Sunday, January 23, 2011

Prayer.

A wise Biblical Scholar requested I blog about prayer. For many reasons, I had to agree.

He asked I answer the following question:

"What affect does our prayer have on God’s mind?"

It's a great question. And as I've considered how to answer, I am grievously convicted. For that which I know, is not my practice or experience. I sadly am struggling to live this. So it's ironic that I'm blogging about this- especially today.

Recently, God has been revealing my distorted view of Him, and His gifts. How He gives good things to His children-- He is not spiteful. Nor does He give only to take away. Sometimes He gives and sustains. Often, I forget that's true. I'm always sort of "ready" for him to take. Sometimes even bracing myself...knowing He'll be faithful and carry me; He'll see me through whatever trial He's brought; but strapping my seatbelt on and getting ready for pain. Oh, how it must sadden His heart...how wrongly I view Him and His grace...

There's no reason to "hold on tight." He is the One holding me. And He is the Healer of my heart. His love towards me is not restricted or constrained in any way. It is a powerful, boisterous love that has no limits or boundaries. Tears come to my eyes even as I type. Father, let me believe this- help me in my unbelief!

So, I apologize-- in the midst of this answer, because I cannot separate the two, this post will be seasoned with my personal wrestlings of that which I know is true...because I believe its the heart of the answer.

This morning I felt impressed to pray something I once read in The Valley of Vision- a book of Puritan prayers.

"Burn into my experience the things that I know." May this be true of all of us. Would we learn to not just be convinced of truth with a fervent head knowledge...but would our hearts embrace the grace available to us to put our faith IN the God who tells us He can always be trusted. Our prayer life, I believe, is a reflection of our trust in God and His promises.

...all of that was free.

So.

Why pray? That's foundational in understanding even the question itself. If God is sovereign, all wise, all loving, and cannot do amiss...why even bother asking or petitioning? He's going to do what He's going to do anyways. And if He doesn't do something, it's better than what we asked. Let's just let Him do His thing.

But as I stare at the question, all I see here in answering: is the heart of the Gospel. The only thing ringing through my ears is, "Abba."

He loves us. He loves to communicate with us. His heart towards us is one of grace, steadfast love, welcoming, and a desire for nearness. He longs to bless us. To pour out His goodness on us- to teach of more of Himself, thereby satisfying the very core of who we are as beings. Fulfilling our ultimate goal: to know the Uncreated. To be in relationship with Him. Communing with Him. Adoring and worshiping Him. Enjoying life to the fullest.

These things are only possible through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As enemies of God, we have no need or reason to pray-- except to beg for mercy. As believers, fellow heirs with Christ, and children of God, we have every reason and need to pray.

I think of the question, "Why pray?" and my mind floods with Scripture. "Pray without ceasing." "You do not have because you do not ask." "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you." I am reminded of the parable of the persistent widow who was shown mercy even by an unjust judge due to her perseverance.

I think of Jesus' example to us-- of constant and continual "retreating" for prayer. GOD was praying. The Son to the Father.

We pray because we are commanded to...and if we love God, we obey His commands. We pray because we want to be like Jesus...and that's what He did.

Also. We pray because we need to...for our own edification and building up in faith. Prayer is one means of grace used to draw our attention to the faithfulness of God. If we neglect to pray, we miss out on all that He's answering and working...because we're not looking for it.

A very wise man once told me (I'm paraphrasing), "What we're looking for, we find." I found that profound. In this particular case, if I'm praying and asking God to work...I'm looking for it and expectant. And because God is faithful and always working...I am guaranteed to find His hand moving. Which will then only build my faith to pray and ask more.

But "Why pray" isn't the same question. The question above understands that prayer is commanded and essential. It is not questioning the importance of a prayer life. However, I didn't feel like I could answer what effect our prayers have on the mind of God without explaining a bit of WHY Scripture instructs us to pray.

The answer, I believe, is simple and brief (even though this post is not!)

I believe our prayers stir the heart of God because of His great love for us. His power and love are most gloriously displayed on the cross- where we are justified and adopted as His children.

An earthly father, when His child asks for a fish...does not give Him a stone. How much more does our Heavenly Father know how to give good gifts to His children!

It makes me wonder too...if when we are praying fervently and passionately for something consistently and constantly...if in fact, WE change. And as a result of that change-- knowing God more, trusting Him more, casting our cares on Him, being satisfied with His will and praying for that above our own, etc...

...if then the trial or circumstance we were in was there merely to be a means of change for us. It's not about the answered requests. It's about our hearts.

God is after our hearts.

I don't know how it all works. Scripture indicates a few times that God changed His mind. I don't get that-- its a mystery to me. But this is what I do know: God loves us to pray, because He loves to minister to us and do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

WE are the ones who miss out when we neglect to be faithful in our prayer life. We're forfeiting blessings, gifts, joy, and the beauty of knowing God more.

So, go pray for something! Whatever's on your heart right now...

3 comments:

justyns35@hotmail.com said...

You said... " It makes me wonder too...if when we are praying fervently and passionately for something consistently and constantly...if in fact, WE change. And as a result of that change-- knowing God more, trusting Him more, casting our cares on Him, being satisfied with His will and praying for that above our own, etc..."

I get it now a bit more than I did just a second a go. When we pray...and fervently...we do change. God works in us because we are near to him.

I am not in full agreement with John Piper on everything...but your post reminds me of this statement...."God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him."

Janelle Leach said...

I plan to write the post you requested very soon!

justyns35@hotmail.com said...

Wow thanks for taking my request! Look forward to reading it!