Can I ask you a question? And let’s be honest with each other. There’s no one else in the room looking over your shoulder right now. It’s just you, me and your device. So, I can ask you, How often do you pray?
I’d like to say that I’m following the example set by the great saints of old, petitioning the courts of heaven for hours at a time, on bended knee. But I can’t, but I wish I were.
So how about you? How often and for how long do you pray?
The key to super charging our prayer life
Well, I think I may’ve found the key to revolutionise our prayer life. Let me share it with you. Prayer is built on a relationship. Similar to our relationship with friends and family, but different because it’s meant to be an authentic relationship with God. You know - the one who made the universe and everything else.
Stop and think about it for a moment. A God, who is without beginning or end, who’s existence is dependent on no one, whose glory, majesty and intellect are infinite, could be a God who’s austere, remote, impassive and ready to whack us on the scone with a cudgel the moment we step out of line. Obviously, if this were God’s character, then we wouldn’t go near Him. Jesus, however, tells us that God is our Father.
A bizarre proposal – God is our Father
Nonetheless because we’ve been told that God is our father so often, we’ve lost our sense of wonder and the implications flowing from this profound relationship. And settled for mediocrity.
Jesus persistently insisted that we regard Yahweh as our father, something novel in its milieu and under appreciated in ours.
The intimacy of our father-child relationship is so poignantly put in Jesus’ teaching on prayer, found in Matthew chapter 7, verses 7-12. You know the passage about giving a kid a stone instead of bread and a snake instead of fish.
Imagine with me, rising early in the morning, your young kid snuggles up to you, on the couch, and says hey Dad! Can I have breakfast?
Let’s pause here for a moment. Why does your child snuggle up to you? Answer, because he or she loves you and trusts you. Why does he or she ask for breakfast? Not simply because they’re hungry, but also because they know that you’ve always cared for them and can be trusted to provide for them.
Notice also the intimacy, the simplicity and the guileless approach. The child is unreserved and feels at ease with you. They know that they can ask anything of you, even stupid stuff and will be treated fairly without ridicule or rebuke.
What do we have here? Can you see it? It’s screaming at us. Answer, we have an intimate relationship, founded on trust, between the father and the child. And Jesus teaches that it’s this relationship upon which our prayer life should rest.
We don’t pray, because we don’t trust
Let’s be honest with each other, we’ve all been burnt. We’ve asked for stuff or things to happen, but God hasn’t come through for us. I’m not talking about frivolous stuff like finding a car park in the local shopping centre. I’m talking about kingdom stuff. And because God didn’t grant the request, we lose trust in Him.
We somehow, sort of place God’s failure to act, in a closed file on the desk, while paying lip service to the promise ‘ask and you shall receive, seek and you’ll find………………will not your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. Vainly trying to balance the contradiction, in order not to be disappointed in Him.
But here’s the thing (without sounding trite), God knows all. Therefore, while we may feel that our request is legitimate and should be granted, God knows what’s best, for us, we don’t.
Let’s go back to the couch, your kid asks for lollies and ice cream for breakfast, lunch and tea. We know that it’s okay to grant the request for junk food occasionally, but as a long-term diet it will have damaging health outcomes.
The kid is disappointed that he or she didn’t what they wanted. But at the same time doesn’t have the foresight or the wisdom to understand. We on the other hand do.
So, are we going to give up on God, because he didn’t give to us, what we thought was best? Or are we going to cuddle up to God regardless, and continue to pray, to ask, and to trust even through the setbacks, because we know that he’s our father who can be trusted.
The Protestant tradition makes a big deal about faith. You know the Reformation thing. But at the same time, it tends to reduce faith to an intellectual adherence to a set of orthodox doctrines. However, Jesus’ teaching about prayer and trust, takes us out of the theoretical into the real world of experience.
When we earnestly pray after the knock backs and in the midst of disappointments we’re living as we’re called to be; in a relationship with God that evinces trust, in our heavenly Father.
Remember ‘The Just shall live by faith’.
Vic Matthews, has three degrees B.Optom, B.Arts & B. Christian Studies. Is available as a Guest Speaker for your next Church conference or camp. He is a fledgling author, and copywriter.
For more information visit http://www.graphw.co/
Vic Matthews' previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/vic-matthews.html