Monday, August 04, 2008

What's Prayer Got to Do with It!

YIKES! I sure have absent from the blogosphere for awhile...I guess my summer has been more busy than I knew. Well' I'm back...if at least for a moment.

This coming Sunday I hope to be focusing on the topic of prayer, specifically, the prayer that doesn't seem to be answered.

A week ago I finally finished reading "Come be My Light," a book filled with the previously unpublished letters of Mother Teresa. The ongoing message of the book was her continued faithfulness even through the score of years that the Lord seemed to be silent to her. Whatever your feelings toward Catholicism maybe, her life story is a humbling reminder of our call to faithfulness even in the midst of God's silence. Worth the read.

That being said, I am surely not the "saint" that Mother Teresa was. When I pray, and God seems silent, my faith wavers. I begin to wonder if there is something wrong with the way I prayed, or the item I prayed about. I search my soul, I search the Scriptures, but sometimes I am left with that nagging suspicion that God is not listening. Have you ever been there or is just me?

Now, I know that God does hear. I know that God will respond according to His wisdom, not my desires. But, still I have left wondering.

Have you been there? How have you dealt with those times? What lessons have you learned?

The one lesson I am beginning to learn (again) is that prayer is not about working, as in asking the question, "does prayer work?" Prayer is primarily not about getting things done, it is about relationship. (There is that word, "relationship," once again!) When we see prayer as just that conversation with God whose key (sole) purpose is to get things done, then we miss the whole point. Much like my conversations with my wife, it's not just about getting things accomplished in our lives, in our family, in our home, but it is about the sharing of life. The conversation of marriage that only deals with the pragmatics soon degrades to nothing more than a shopping list of stuff to get done...and let me tell you, that's know way to deepen a relationship of love.

This is also true about our relationship with our heavenly Father, the One we are allowed to address as Abba. I must constantly remember that prayer is that beautiful, intimate, soul conversation with the One who has loved me from eternity past. When I understand that reality of prayer...well, let's just say that the whole of my prayer life changes. It changes from one of getting the desires of my heart, to one of simple desire.

So, pray-tell, how do we then pray?


trinity said...


Anonymous said...

Well, the "blog hog" is back too and so here's my endless rambling.

When Christ’s disciples asked him how to pray, I don’t believe he expected his disciples to pray by rotely repeat the “Lord’s prayer.” Instead he was teacing by example.

Our father who art in heaven
To really grasp who we have the honor of not just conversing with but addressing as “father’ is too magnificent and incredible for our finite minds to really even begin to comprehend. But it is something we need to spend a great deal of time meditating on to renew our minds and fill our hearts.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
His example of prayer and ultimately giving his life for us clearly shows us that to walk like he walked means to pray for his will to be done in our lives. But we should pray honestly just as Trinity mentioned - otherwise we are not in an authentic relationship at all, but putting on a facade for who? Our father? So there is no use pretending that surrendering our will is a cake walk. Even Christ begged to have the cup taken from him, if it be God’s will. So if we have an honest relationship with someone who knows us inside out anyway, we will open our hearts and admit that we might not like what he has in store for us or what has already happened to us, but then acknowledge that we will bend to his will anyway – something that can only be done when there is great trust and faith that our heavenly father knows best even when something seems to defy human logic.

Give us this day our daily bread means that it is okay to ask God to feed us and take care of both our spiritual and physical needs. I notice that he did not pray anything like, “Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” nor did his example of living humbly when here on earth indicate that to follow him would always mean living in the lap of luxury. It was satan not God who tried to tempt Jesus with the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Imagine Christ who never sinned asking for forgiveness? Obviously he didn’t need forgiveness and never would, but he was teaching by example how christians should pray. To me this means there is no need to pretend we ever get our walk down perfectly. While we should not use God’s grace for license, we need to be aware that continual soul searching and cleansing is necessary and continue to pray for forgiveness. We need to search for the log in our own eye and not the speck in our brother or sisters. And we need to forgive others (not outwardly but from the heart) and pray for our enemies if we want God to forgive us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
In order to follow Christ, we need to be able to tell when it is satan tempting us or our own carnal flesh yearning for something versus the Holy Spirit within us drawing us, leading us or guiding us. We need to be reminded that if We resist temptation, we can expect God to faithfully deliver us from evil. One way to tell if we are being drawn by the Holy Spirit versus being tempted by evil is that God loves us and would never lead us into a self-destructive habit nor would he tempt us to do anything that would hurt another human being. Other times, like should we take this job or that job or major in this or that or go to college here or there or whatever – those are the things that are harder to determine.

I used to scream at God and ask him if he was deaf or what? I would tell him I didn’t think he was listening at all. I think he wanted me to be honest with him about that. I fully expected lightening to strike me, but I got it off my chest anyway which is why I think the honesty Trinity spoke of is so important. That’s when I really started learning how to unburden my heart. That was how I learned how to “pray it through” until a peace comes over me so that regardless of what happened after that, I had “peace” in my heart.

Now, I think that God always anwers every time. I might have a problem with my reception or need my antenna adjusted, and I might not like the answer I get, but he always answers. Sometimes saying nothing is an answer in and of itself. Sometimes he says yes, sometimes no, sometimes wait and sometimes (too often), he says he will tell me later when I am old enough and mature enough to understand or when I finally see him face to face.

I came to the conclusion that the silence is God listening to me so that's when I just rattle on and on until the burden is gone, and once I have prayed it through for some reason, it doesn’t matter any more because I gave the burden to him.

To hear him talk to us though. Those times when we know it is Him leading us and guiding us. So sweet and so fulfilling. I think that the honesty is key to having that kind of “real” and close relationship with God because Christ said, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

and it is foolishness to think that we our hearts can be purified any other way besides exposing our hearts, opening our hearts and allowing God’s Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts and fill our hearts more fully.

P.S. The girl I asked for prayer for on the “worth the wait” thread is out of the hospital and doing just fine now.


Pastor Randy said...

do we have to now call you gentlehog? I dare say, not.

Thank you for your insightful walking through the Lord's Prayer. I have thought many of those thoughts myself, but you reminded me of them and I feel that some of those need to be brought forth in my sermon this, thank you for your "gentledove" reminders.

And I surely don't see you as a bloghog! ;o)