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Reflectioins on PrayerNovember 19, 2011
I must admit that I stay confused about prayer. My confusion does not come from what I hear the Bible saying but from what I hear other people saying. What other people say about prayer confuses me because if I hear them correctly, they are at least intimating that their prayer can change God’s purpose. And they are suggesting that if I do not pray that way it is a failure to trust God and shows how little faith I have. Now I must admit to you that I can be a person of little faith, I can have a faith as small as a mustard seed. And I must also admit to you that I never pray thinking that I am persuading God through my prayer to conform His great plans to my puny purpose. I do not pray that way. So then you ask, how is it that I pray? What is it that I am after when I pray? Let me venture a response to that.
First, I am after commitment. I want God to know that I am committed to Him no matter what. My wonderful daughter and son-in-law will be moving next June. He is a doctor with the Air Force and the Air Force will put him somewhere next year other than Cleveland, Ohio where they live now. They are both wonderful believers whose lives are devoted to God and His glory. I do not for a skinny second think God is interested in whether they are close to me are far away from me. God is not consumed with nor concerned by such fleshly realities. He wants to use them, as He wants to use me, to best glorify His Name. God is consumed with God and places His people where we best honor Him. I love living where I live and doing what I do but I am always praying that God would put me where He can most use me. That is what I pray for my daughter and her family in their move that God would put them where He can most use them. That is what I mean by praying with commitment. God’s plans for His people are fixed in the heavens. My prayers do not move God to change His commitment for His people. That is why I pray further that not only will my life be lived out in an ever-increasing commitment to Him but in the fullest conformity to His will.
For example, one place that our daughter and her family could end up is close to where they are now and another is on the west coast. Which is best? God knows. I don’t. And it would surely be most selfish and most arrogant of me to inform God that it would be best for them to be one place or the other. I cannot pray that way. I refuse to pray that way. It frankly scares me to pray that way for them for others. I do pray for healing when people are sick but I do not press into that. It may be that a person getting sicker will bring more glory to God than a person getting well. I just read again today in Operation World that the Gospel is booming in place of pain and is all but bankrupt in places of plenty. How should that lead us to pray if in fact we want to live for the glory of God in the Gospel?
And I pray for contentment, which I know comes for the child of God when our lives are lived out in conformity to the will of God and which is found when we are completely committed to Him. Do you then understand how I struggle with prayer as it is promoted to be practiced among modern American believers? What so many call “prayer” in our day, I do believe the Bible considers a perversion of what prayer is. Our will and our wants rather than His Word and His way drive so much of it. God is immutable; He does not change. God is eternal; He is not bound by time. God is omniscient knowing the way everything is going to turn out before a first step is ever taken. God is omnipotent with power to do anything but always expresses His power in a way that advances His Kingship over His Kingdom. So when I pray, I praise this great God and plead with Him that my life would grow in commitment so that I can live in conformity to His word and His will and thus be content. Begging from Him only that He would deliver me from begging from Him what I want and instead bow before His sovereign majesty and be at peace. It is not the way I hear prayer taught, but it is what I believe real prayer really is.