Friday, July 4, 2014

Thoughts on Prayer 1

 1.       Praying between the Times: Believer is the source of prayer!

Do you sometimes feel that prayer has nothing to do with reality? Does communication with God has any bearing on our lives? Why ‘waste’ time in prayer when there are is so much to be done? You can evangelize, you can read your Bible, you can show Christian love by giving to the needy and fellowship with brethren, is it necessary to pray? Prayer is for guys who want to spiritualize everything and make everything hazy in effect. I believe thinking in these or similar terms lead to a real neglect of prayer. The God in His Word makes prayer not just relevant, but of the uttermost importance. The key to understanding this issue is to relate it with moments of joy, sadness, grief, pain. God has ordained prayer so that we can communicate with Him when in different circumstances. Some Christians go through this life in poverty, others in wealth; some go through this life in abject illiteracy, others are highly educated, some get converted in old age others in their youth and all these affect the sort of Christian life one lives. Nonetheless we serve the Lord in the same period, same era – between the first and the second coming of Christ. We are all dependent on Christ and His cross for our salvation.
What gives you hope when you doubts assails, suffering seem to prevail, temptations appear to overcome? In His earthly work Christ began to fulfil all those OT promises and brought a full reconciliation between us and God – Eph 2:19. Our guilt has been laid upon Christ, and His righteousness has become ours. 2 Cor.5:21. And now we have immeasurable blessings in Him (EPh.1:3). What this means for us is that when we suffer from guilt of sin we know that Christ has secured our forgiveness. What do we do when we suffer loss and experience poverty, to whom do we turn? What I am saying here is that this period that we live in, is of immense privileges, yet we have not experienced the full consummation of our redemption. It is a period of “It is here and not yet!” (see Galatians 5:16-17) We eagerly await the second coming of Christ (2Thess.1:6-10; Rev. 21:1-2, 4).  For this reason, life is different for each of us – yet we know that one great tension characterizes all of our experiences. We have good and bad, relief and hardship, blessing and waiting.

Responding in faith                                               
So how should we respond to this mixed experience? What should our attitude be as we react to the good and bad of life? Christians tend to go to one extreme to another – many believers are keenly aware of the waiting that characterizes our lives, placing a lot of emphasis on the sins and troubles that continue to bother them and so they become sullen, remorseful, and negative about life. In effect they lack joy and excitement, even when things are going well. But we should know that becoming a Christian is not a gurantee of everything moving as smoothly as you may want. Financial difficulties, sicknesses and ill-health, family problems, persecution, joblessness, etc. are still part of our lives. Yet, for a Christians, we can testify of God’s love while going through them. (Read, 1Thess. 5:18) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus

On the other hand many Christians mistakenly think that they should react only positively to life. These believes believe that God has given them so much that any trouble is trivial. This view forgets that we are still waiting for Christ to return in glory. Did Jesus Himself react negatively toward life? He responded to some events in sadness (John11:33, 35, 38) and even anger (Mark 3:5). Such emotions are not sinful (Eph. 4:26). The problem with Christians like these is that they can deal with other Christians who are going through tough times without sensitivity, care and love. The mark of spiritual maturity is not constant happiness but knowing how to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15). A Christian response to any life experience is to an honest response. Since life is both negative and positive, we should be able to respond the same way. (time for everything – Ecc. 3:4)

Opening up in Prayer
How are we to deal with these two aspects of life when we pray? Is it acceptable to talk with God about these different aspects? We have to deal with God honestly – this is what we see in the Bible. Openness is vital to communication with God is the one of the greatest lesson we learn from the Psalms. Different experiences of life are treated differently – positive attitudes toward life are expressed to God through thanksgiving and praise.

Read Psalm 145:1-7
Prayer can be a means through which  believers express to God their positive attitudes toward life.
However other times we have examples of negative feelings in psalms. When times of trouble assail the psalmists, they expect their honest reactions to their situations –
 Read Psalm 69:1,2, 19, 29. But at the end of the Psalm he praises God (30-36).

These thoughts are taken or informed by Richard Pratt Jr's Book:

It will be a series of four articles.

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