I smiled this morning when a letter arrived from Steve's office advising me of the forthcoming prayer events. I had purposed to write this article today and, well, to be honest I was in two minds what to write about but reading the letter clinched it:
"Prayer" began the letter "moves us from self-sufficiency and independence to a place of humility where we acknowledge our total dependence upon God."
Steve is right God's desire is that we should learn to live in total dependence on him. He wants us to participate in a totally new way of life, HIS! In a disturbingly real way our prayer life is a barometer of our Christ life.
Perhaps you are praying for a "breakthrough" in some area of your life. If so you have a wonderful opportunity to meet God especially if you were taught God never gives us more than we can bear - And HE HAS. Relax, God is committed to giving us more than we can bear; otherwise we will never learn to depend on him and give up trusting in SELF and abandon all confidence in the flesh. [Phil 3:9]
The point of prayer is not to get God to change His mind but to get us to change ours. Consider Job's question which, is not "Why do the righteous suffer? - But rather, "Why do the righteous serve God? -Because he blesses them or because He's God.
God is neither deaf, or indifferent, however, some Christians evidently believe otherwise. It is as though we feel if we are persistent and shout loud and long enough we can wear Him down. Wherever did we get this idea from? Take James Chapter 5 for instance:
"Therefore confess your sins to one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crops." vv16-18
How many accusative "Why heaven is silent" sermons have we endured?
1. Do you have any unconfessed sin in your life?
2. Did you pray fervently? [Code for did you shout?]
3. Have you paid your tithes? [Apparently God won't help if you haven't paid your subs]
4. Are you righteous? [If you are in Christ then you are righteous 2 Cor 5:21 now as you will ever be)
5. Do you fast? [Church speak for "If all else fails try a hunger strike]
What riches we deny ourselves by being consumer Christians. James' wisdom has fallen on deaf ears among us moderns. What he is saying is that it is not that God listens to the righteous it is that the righteous listen to God. Jesus woos us in prayer taking us deeper into his purposes beyond merely believing IN Him to BELIEVING HIM.
In prayer we learn to trust him abandoning all our outcomes to his will. In prayer we learn to believe that God's greatest desire is to bless us [Jer 29:11] In prayer Naomi's words [Ruth 1:20-21] dissolve. In prayer our demand for REMISSION - NOW, yields to God's desire for our TRANSFORMATION into his image & likeness.
Prayer carries us beyond our circumstances bringing us to the place of contentment. As we walk with Him we learn that if he wants to us to have something nothing can prevent it, & we see that if God doesn't want us to have it we don't want it either Ps 37:4. In dependency we learn that NOTHING can happen to us unless God allows it and if he permits it then he will cause it to work together for good. [Roms 8:28]
So thanks for the invite Steve lets go, but this time instead of our praying, "Lord help us to do the things that WE want to do (for you of course ~ Yeah right,)" Lets pray "Lord Jesus We are abiding in you and you in us, express your life through us in any way that you so desire" And you never know, as I realised recently "What I intended for EGO God meant for good."