TO FEEL A PRAYER

Posted by Tori on Feb 18, 2013 in a good word., thankful heart., theology

I have been thinking, and practicing, and learning more and more about prayer in recent weeks. [As if God had something He intended to teach me 😉 ] It’s at times like these that I often find it difficult to articulate all that I’m taking in from everything that life holds right now. But, I will try.

Because another season will come when I will need to look back and be reminded of these lessons. Because the Word of God was not given to build up our theology; it was given to change our reality. That’s why I study. That’s why I write the way I do. Because His Word is is alive, and it changes us. That’s why theology is so important — not so we’ll be smarter — but so we will be different, more like Him.

There have been countless, endless words written and spoken on what it means to pray, and how one should do it. I don’t have anything relevant to contribute to that conversation…at least not now. But, I will share a few elements I’ve been focusing on currently:

1. We are to pray with persistence. Even to the point of seeming annoyance.

I love the example Jesus gives in Luke 11:5-13 when teaching His disciples to pray. He talks about a friend who comes knocking at his neighbor’s door at midnight asking for bread to serve an unexpected guest. The neighbor calls back to his friend to go away because his house is already sleeping. But, if his friend keeps on knocking and asking for the bread, he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

I’m not a fan of this usually, but let’s modernize just for kicks. You’re tired and sleeping. Your whole house is sleeping. You are awakened by a text, but ignore it and roll over. Then, they call. You silence the phone, huff, and roll over again. Then, it rings again. Finally, you get up and answer the phone. Not because it was your friend who wanted something, but because they kept on calling.

I love this about Jesus. For SO many reasons. I love that I don’t have to walk away discouraged because I think He’s silent. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear, or doesn’t care, or wants me to stop asking. I love that it’s okay to be annoying in how often I bring something to Him. He can take that. In fact, He takes delight in it.

2. We can approach our Father in prayer with confidence & humility. These two are not conflicting. We come full of passion, emotion, raw honesty, truth, and surrender.

I love this picture of confidence clothed in humility as we approach the Lord in prayer. We come humble, bowing low, realizing that in our prayer, we have audience with the Most High, the Maker of heaven and earth. We bow low, perhaps both symbolically and physically, in reverence. Yet, we come with the full confidence awarded to us by the finished work of Christ.

Few things get me charged up like the book of Hebrews. I LOVE spending time there (I think I have some writing to do about this book….). And, even fewer things get me fired up like chapter 10. It might just be one of my favorite portions in all of Scripture. Read what the author says in verses 19-25.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

So, the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, explaining the inadequacy of the Law and it’s role as a shadow of what was to come in Christ. Christ is the complete fulfillment for the religious system that these Jews had known and been taught their whole lives. That’s mainly what the beginning of this chapter is making clear (10:1-19). (I’m really fighting the urge to unpack all 19 of these verses right now…because IT’S SO GOOD!!!)  Bottom line: The first section of 10:1-25 explains the necessity and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice (10:1-18), and the second applies that truth to the lives of the readers (10:19-25), which is the part we’re interested in today.

What we learn about prayer here is that, as believers, we are to draw near to God in full assurance that Christ’s blood is an adequate covering and cleansing agent for our souls.  This involves recognition of who we are in Christ, and agreement with God that His sacrifice is complete and enough to save us.  We are able to approach Him boldly as His children, whom He loves and has redeemed.

The doctrine of the priesthood of Jesus is a major theme throughout the book of Hebrews, but it is sort of a foreign concept to Western believers in our culture today. We should remember that, under the Law, only the high priest was permitted to enter the holy of holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. As he entered, he sprinkled blood from the sin offering on the mercy seat and offered incense. But, now, we read that through the high priestly work of Christ, we can have “confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

This leads us beautifully into our next consideration…

3. We are to pray according to His Word and in His name.

John 14:13-15 says, “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Compare these verses to similar Scriptures on asking things of the Lord in prayer.

John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

1 John 5:14–15, “If we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

Mark 11:24, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Here in John 14, we don’t find any of the conditions italicized in the verses above. Instead, there is only one condition: “in my name.” So, does this imply that we can ignore all the other conditions: abide in him; ask according to his will; believe his word? Or, could it be, that, as John Piper suggests, all these are included in the meaning of asking in my name?

I think so. I think that’s what Jesus would say.

And, in case I have to say it, it is inappropriate to tack “in Jesus’ name” on the end of anything you want to pray.

Praying “in Jesus’ name” means that we come, asking: For His fame, not mine. Because of His infinite worth. On the basis of the payment He made on the cross. According to His wisdom (submission to His wise will and plan). Anything asked on that basis for the glory of the Father; anything prayed for through the filter of His fame, His worth, His purchase, and His wisdom will be answered and done.

And we are promised to have everything we need to do the work He’s called us to do. Like Jesus says in John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

Now, that’s powerful.

There’s a big difference in “God, be glorified in what I’m doing.” and “God, do your thing for your glory.” That’s what I want to pray. And that’s how I want to live.

4. He loves. He listens. He responds.

Friends, the One we approach in prayer is our Father. Prayer gives us fellowship with Him. Because of Christ, we can come to Him at any time, with any thing. Prayer continually teaches us to see our world, and our circumstances with the eyes of eternity. He is for us. And my soul is ever grateful.

As our kindred spirit, Anne, once said:

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

Might be loose theology, but we’re benefited to remember the freedom we have to approach Him as His daughters and sons.

Never forget the enormous gift and privilege that we have to come to Him anytime, anywhere, with anything.

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1 Comment

Noah D. Nguyen
May 30, 2013 at 6:24 am

When I keep my focus on Jesus and His love for me; His desire to be my help in times of need, my prayers change. I can be bold because I’m safe no matter what happens. Stephen is being murdered, stoned. The rocks are pummelling him and he’s praying for the men killing him. That’s what love can do.


 

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