Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pray Believing

As we approach the end of the month, so I approach the end of the Daily Thoughts series at work on prayer. Just like the Word itself, coming to the end of something like this only highlights how much more could be said on the subject. It’s fascinating even approaching the subject in the way that DT does it to see the many dimensions and factors involved in talking about prayer. Today’s particular thought inspired this blog entry.

The issue here is faith. It is a topic we looked at as a church on Sunday and I found it really engrossing and fascinating looking at this basic of connecting with God and how it’s discussed with people just starting their own journey with God. It reminds me that part of the fun of building relationships and making disciples is being ready to share what you understand in a palatable format. That is the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) model (I’ve got to find another S for Stupid, it doesn’t get at what I’m getting at).

In any case here is the initial thought that’s been shared and following that some extended thoughts that I meditated on.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Matthew 21:22 ESV

What a deal! Jesus seems to have turned into a game-show host offering the sale of all time – whatever we ask for we receive!! The catch in the deal, which makes Jesus a peacemaker connecting rather than a dodgy second hand car salesman, is that the key ingredient is faith. This is not mere positive thinking with fingers crossed, but a trust in our Father, built on a growing knowledge of Him so when we ask for ‘whatever’, we do so out of love from and for Him. Then there is reassurance that He hears and answers prayer.

This verse could get people into trouble and give people a reason to ‘disprove’ God. After all many are the stories of disillusioned people whose loved ones died or suffered trauma and wonder why God didn’t help them out, even when they prayed. The explanation that someone didn’t have enough faith can be patronising, insulting, hurtful and insensitive (even if on some occasions accurate). The deal here about having faith is not about having a divine cashcard to spend on absolutely anything you want, but being connected with the Source of Creation to get from Him the very best He wants for you.

The issue of believing is not primarily about belief in things to change, but trusting in the One who makes all these things, even the seemingly impossible, possible. The issue of prayer is relational and so is motivated out of a love for God and such a connection with Him that you’re able to walk in ways pleasing to Him and astounding to others. That’s why the definition and condition of faith outlined in the scripture on people of faith – Hebrews 11 – is so crucial. Faith according to verse 6 is about trusting God exists AND that He is the rewarder of those who are looking … for Him.

The deal then is not about what’s in his hand, or what am I looking to get out of Him. The deal of faith primarily is looking for Him. So as we look its fair to expect Him to give us what we need in the day to continue live as though we’re looking for Him. It is the reassurance we so desperately need when prayers appear ‘unanswered’ because if our issue is a reassurance of the reality of God we can say like the Hebrew boys in front of Nebuchadnezzar that God is able to deliver and even if He doesn’t, He’s still God.

For every Peter miraculously delivered from prayer, there’s a Peter who’ll end up crucified upside down. This doesn’t negate the worth of the gospel and the reality of God, because the bedrock is not on what He will do for me, but we will do for and through Him and we show Him most glorious as He is our strength at our weakest moments of confusion, hurt and pain. Seeing Him doing the miraculous, impossible and unexpected becomes the norm as we embrace the mysterious yet sovereign nature of the God we serve. That is why we can pray believing.

For His Name's Sake
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