As I sit in my office preparing for the weekly prayer meeting on Wednesday night, I have been contemplating this concept of prayer. The Lord has been dealing with me about what prayer is, and that perhaps I have been doing it wrong for some time now. Do I substitute real prayer for a series of motions and actions that I put together and label as prayer? What is real prayer, anyway?
Too many times I think we label prayer as "telling the Lord our problems", or "asking Him to fix this situation", and we count that as having prayed - and perhaps we have, in some respects. But, when we pray, do we ever simply ask the Lord to glorify Himself? Do we ever simply pray to God for no other reason that because He is holy and we are not? I think it would do us well to remember that God is, in fact, holy. I have heard it said, and I agree, that God's holiness is the one attribute from which all other attributes spring. In other words, God's justice, mercy, love, grace, etc. all find their roots in His holiness. God is all these other things because He is holy.
A.W. Tozer once wrote:
“Neither the writer nor the reader of these words is qualified to appreciate the holiness of God. Quite literally a new channel must be cut through the desert of our minds to allow the sweet waters of truth that will heal our great sickness to flow in. We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of.
God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable… Holy is the way God is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard.”
Too many times I think we approach God with our list of problems and suggest to Him a solution that we have come up with, and ask Him to slap His "The Will of God" label on top it. Do we ever simply approach Him and ask Him to glorify Himself in our situation without even considering what we would like the outcome to look like? Our church currently has a couple of properties for sale. We spend a great deal of time pleading with God to sell these properties. Do we ever, rather than asking God for something specific as an answer, simply trust that He knows the answer and ask Him to be glorified in this situation and use our own uncertainty to grow our faith and trust in Him?
We all have a laundry list of problems, probably more than we can assign numbers to. God knows our problems even before the first evidence of our problem is seen by us. Perhaps we ought to pray the Lord's prayer a little more often. "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 of 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, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen."
Nowhere in that prayer does Christ suggest to the Father a solution to His problems. He acknowledges our relationship with the Father and His holiness first. Beyond that, He asks for His will to be done in our life, for God to see us through today, and forgive us of sins and protect our from sins. That pretty much covers it.
As you pray, simply take time to reflect on God's holiness and ask Him to be glorified in your life and circumstances. Let's try to consciously avoid telling the Lord of our problems and suggesting solutions to Him. He is God and He is holy - we are not and we are not.
Matthew 9:2 - "And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, 'Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.'"
Matthew 9 recounts the famous story of Jesus healing the paralytic. This story comes in the middle of Matthew's portrayal of Jesus to the Jews as their King, their Messiah that they had been waiting for. He shows them His pedigree to be King (chapters 1-4), His principles to be King (5-7), and then in this section His power to be King (8-10). Matthew seeks to demonstrate that Jesus has power over sickness, the demonic realm, the elements of nature, and everything else in this world.
This story, however, puts an interesting twist on the role of our faith. In previous stories, Jesus had healed someone because of their faith - the leper and the Roman centurion's servant, for example. However, in this story Jesus heals someone as a result of the faith of their friends. These friends went to the trouble to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus. When they arrived, the place was so crowded that they had to climb up on the roof, cut a hole in it, and lower their friend down to Jesus. What an incredible testimony of the power of faithful friends!
So, it causes me to ask the question: What has MY faith done for others? Have your family, friends, or co-workers been impacted by Christ as a result of your faith? Jesus makes it clear here that our faith has a direct impact on the lives of others. Take some time this week and examine your faith and the role it plays in the lives of those closest to you.
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.