Friday, September 21, 2012

Yes, Ma, We Have Missed Something!


Ma,

Thanks for dropping by and taking time to read my blog. Thank you especially for your comment on yesterday’s post. Please allow me to respond.

For any believer to question the necessity of prayer or to suggest that prayer may be superfluous while worshipping a sovereign God demonstrates a lack of understanding prayer. Prayer’s design is not to be a tool given to believers to induce the God of this universe to become our butler or valet.

Prayer, first of all is a means of developing humble submission to our sovereign God as we seek His will in any matter. Prayer is a means that God has wisely given to us in order to submit ourselves to him. Without prayer we would be hard pressed to surrender and submit our selfish, stubborn, and sensual wills to God.

Second, prayer is designed to discover and join God in his will and purpose. There is no doubt that we may ask for what we believe we need or want. However, the Scriptures make it clear that we are to pray, “not our will be done, but thine.”

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”  (John 14:13-14, ESV)

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

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23, ESV)

Now, Ma, having read your blog I don’t believe that you misunderstand these words of Jesus. We would agree that this doesn’t mean that just because I wish for a new Cadillac, or a new Sea Swirl, or healing of my arthritis, or the immediate healing of my sister’s breast cancer that I can “pray for it, claim it, and expect to receive it.”
 
Don’t misunderstand me, when I have had cars in the past “die and give up the ghost” I have asked God to supply another source of transportation for us. I don’t think it is wrong to ask God to “heal” or remove a sickness or disease from ourselves or someone we love.

Jesus is telling us that we must “abide” or remain in supernatural fellowship with Jesus, His words (which represent His character and nature) must reside within which our thinking and reasoning. What happens when these things take place? As we truly “abide in Christ” and His word transforms our thinking, we will desire and ask for what Jesus desires and therefore we will pray or “ask” according to his words, and according to his nature or character. As a result our prayers will be pleasing to our sovereign God and he will give us these things.

The difficulty that we all face is because we are selfish, self-centered, and sensual people (even as believers) we fail to see prayer in this light. We think that if we pray hard enough, long enough, loud enough, and articulate enough we can change God’s mind and get him to give us what we want.

Unfortunately for this “one” to whom you made reference that is asking this very question answers your question of “are we missing something?” Yes, to ask this question demonstrates that we do not understand prayer either in its design or purpose. To ask this question or to question the necessity and/or validity of praying to a sovereign God is indicative of the fact that we have missed something vital concerning God and prayer.

First, neither God nor Christianity are fatalists. The bible does not teach the concept and attitude of “Que sera sera.” It is not a case of what will be, will be. However, God has determined certain things to take place in his progressive unfolding of his plan and purposes.

Second, biblical Christianity requires that we trust God, rely on God, and seek God through prayer. Otherwise James would have been terribly wrong at best and deceptive at worst when he wrote:

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16b) Paul would have been cruel or foolish to have commanded the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing.” I Thessalonians 5:17, ESV) If God being absolutely sovereign would have negated any need of prayer, Jesus would have wasted both his and our time in teaching us how to pray:

“When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And leas us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:2-4, ESV)

So, are we missing something? Yes! Most believers miss the fact that rather than God being an “automated vending machine in the sky,” he devised a purpose in prayer. Prayer is designed to bend our often insubordinate will to God’s will. Prayer is not designed to change God – prayer is designed to change us. Prayer is designed to change us from “not my will be done, but thine.” Just as David prayed “Incline (bend, push, stretch out) my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain,” (Psalms 119:36, ESV) we must ask God to “bend, push, stretch out” our hearts and wills to him through the vehicle and means of prayer.

Gospel-driven Disciples,
Gregg Metcalf

5 comments:

Ma said...


Thank you for taking the time out to answer my question Gregg:)




prayer is designed to discover and join God in his will and purpose


This is how I see it, too. Jesus does tell us to ask anything in His name and it will be done....but why doesn't that work?

I'm not even talking about silly "I want a new whatever" things, but in the REAL things: healing, salvation of loved ones, peace in our own spirits.



As you pointed out, we have to have the "mind of Christ" as Paul says. Our will, His will as one.

"We don't know how to pray as we ought". I love that passage from Romans because that sums it up for me...I DON'T know how to pray as I ought. I need the Spirit to intercede.

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that we are commanded to pray, I just bring up the question because I know those struggling with this. I feel that the zeal for prayer is often waned when we see that our prayers aren't answered.



Ultimately, His will is done.



Gregg Metcalf said...

Ma,


This is how I see it, too. Jesus does tell us to ask anything in His name and it will be done....but why doesn't that work?

Ma, it does work, it works everytime. He doesn't tell us to ask just anything in his name, but to ask anything in his name that is in accordance with his will. God doesn't promise healing to everyone and as a result of every prayer. There is no place where we can go to prove that God wants to or will heal everyone in this life time. It is not God's will to save everyone. First, George Mueller prayed for over 50 years for a friend to be saved. That friend wasn't sved until after Mueller's death. God saves his elect, and the non-elect will not be saved. We don't know who is who or who is which, so we pray leaving the result to God. God will give you peace in your spirit if you seek it and accept it. For the most part we don't accept it for a period because we actually like the feeling of unrest.

I'm not even talking about silly "I want a new whatever" things, but in the REAL things: healing, salvation of loved ones, peace in our own spirits.



As you pointed out, we have to have the "mind of Christ" as Paul says. Our will, His will as one.

"We don't know how to pray as we ought". I love that passage from Romans because that sums it up for me...I DON'T know how to pray as I ought. I need the Spirit to intercede.

There are some times we don't know what to pray, you are right.

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that we are commanded to pray, I just bring up the question because I know those struggling with this. I feel that the zeal for prayer is often waned when we see that our prayers aren't answered.

RHYTHM AND RHYME said...

Great post and a good answer to Ma's question.

Yvonne.

Bob Edwards said...

Heard it a few years about how Jesus often speaks in prophetic hyperbole. When he says to ask anything in his name he is not giving us license to pray for anything but calling us to believe that anything is possible when we pray. Prayer is the heart of our relationship with him and not a means to an end. Just a few thoughts.

Ma said...

Anything is possible is a wonderful thought. You've mentioned the hyperbole aspect before, Bob, I do think you are correct or many of us would be without hand and eyes (having cut them off and plucked them out):)