Monthly Archives: December 2009

Prayer

I’ve been thinking about prayer lately and I keep seeing some patterns that are pretty disturbing to me. Have you ever noticed how we have a national day of prayer? Or perhaps that annual see you at the pole? What about when your churches suggest that you take a week of prayer and fasting? Facebook groups that call a certain number of people to pray or people to pray for certain things?

I think these things are wonderful and it’s not the act themselves that’s troubling me. What is troubling is that we need things like this. What happened to 1 Thessalonians 5:17, you know the pray continually verse?
Why do we need some sort of rallying point or cause or speech to do something like pray?

When we think of fasting, it’s often looked at as pretty extreme, especially if it’s an entire week. Do you realize that when people wanted answers in Biblical times they would start praying/fasting right away? That’s because they knew that prayer and fasting was something that they were supposed to do. I think we view prayer and fasting as a sort of credit card or perhaps something that says “in case of emergency, break glass” and I think that’s cause for worry.

If you ever get the chance to read “This Present Darkness” or “Piercing The Darkness” by Frank Peretti I highly suggest you read them, they are some of my favorite books. There is a very high emphasis on the power of prayer in these books and while I don’t think they are theologically correct in the sense that God can’t move without Christians praying, I think putting a heavy importance on prayer is spot on.

When many of us are little we are taught to pray by starting with “dear God…” and I think that’s a great concept because kids can connect with it even though it’s certainly not the best connection that could be made. However, why are people in high school, college, and beyond still praying like this? I believe we just are never taught any other way, I think a lot of people pray in formulaic ways and aren’t even certain why they are praying that way. I don’t believe you’re writing God a letter when you pray, you are talking to Him, the Creator of the universe, just like you would talk to the person sitting next to you, at least in terms of proximity-specific language.

This extends to corporate prayer too, which I talk a bit about in my previous post on the Lord’s Prayer, and you can take the basics of your personal prayer and eventually apply it to corporate prayer because the ideas are still valid.

Which leads to our quiet times with God. Why are they called quiet times? I think in principle it’s to shut out the noise and distractions of life so that you can just spend some time with God and I think that’s awesome. I’m reading a great book right now called “Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-shaped Faith” and at one point the author is talking about quiet times and he explains that God is the most creative being that you can think of. He then goes on to give the analogy of you having an entire day with Robin Williams, and asks if you would imagine that time being quiet time. He then wonders why so many Christians only have quiet times. This is God we’re talking about; He enjoys music and laughter etc, He created them. Do I think that taking some time out of life to just be quiet and pray and read the Word? Yes. I also think spending time with God can and should extend beyond just a quiet time.

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The Lord’s Prayer isn’t the Lords Prayer at all.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.]

however what we seem to overlook is the fact that in the verse leading up to this it says that this is HOW we should pray, not WHAT we should pray. More of guidelines if you will. on my most recent trip to europe i attented a few church services because the choir was singing in them and even though i couldn’t understand the words, i could always tell when they were reciting the “lord’s prayer” because it sounded the same there as it does here in the states……dead and durge-like. now i’m not saying that we should throw this verse out because it’s not what we claim it is. however i do think that we should instead talk about John 17 when we are referring to the lord’s prayer. in some versions of the bible they break up the chapters with title headings to make it easier to follow and associate so that’s what i’m going to do…..this is the lord’s prayer

Jesus Prays for Himself

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”