Sunday, September 23, 2007

How do we pray?

Jackie and I recently had a family ‘discussion’. It’s probably pretty hard for you to imagine, but she was a bit frustrated and annoyed with me. There was a situation that she asked me to pray for and to tell you the truth I was just stumped. I did not know what to pray and I might be thick headed, but after several days of thought (and prayer) I still am not sure of how and what to pray for in this situation.

The Bible is clear that we aren’t just to throw up a bunch of words at God. He doesn’t like prayers without meaning:

Matthew 6:7
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

In the reflection about how to pray for this situation, a couple of thoughts have come to my mind. First of all this is God’s plan that we are living in. It is clear that we are supposed to pray, but we have to keep it in perspective.

If we have a desire to see family, friends, loved one, etc. saved, to put it into perspective our passion and desire must be multiplied many times over to gain the magnitude of God’s desire for these very same things.

OK, I’m praying for my Sister Sue. It’s not like God says, “Oh yeah, I had forgotten about her.” What ever desire that I have for my sister to be saved is multiplied maybe a hundred or a thousand times or more in the heart of God. We have no inkling at all, maybe a tiny miniscule hint of the wondrousness and grandeur of God’s plan, but it is very arrogant for us to think that we are somehow helping God to mold and create His plan. His plan for each of us has existed from the beginning of the world.

Our prayers are in some ways similar to a wrestling match. I feel sometimes like I’m wrestling with God when I pray. When something is pressing heavily upon my heart, I awake in the morning more tired than I went to bed from crying out to God all night. . . but what happened when Jacob wrestled with God? God wasn’t changed. Jacob was.

From His birth, Moses was destined to lead his people out of Egypt. The persecutions of Pharaoh crafted his life into a tool eminently suited to lead the Hebrews, but this wasn’t a plan created by Moses that he had to sell God upon through his prayers. Hundreds and hundreds of years before Moses a wondrous vision of God’s plan was given to Abraham at the founding of the Hebrew people:

Genesis 15:12-14
And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. (13) And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; (14) And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance

Moses somehow thought the plan was his. He decided that he would take matters into his own hands and the result of Moses’ thinking was one dead Egyptian and 40 years of exile in a desert, 40 years of learning to listen to God, 40 years of being shaped by God and 40 years of leading sheep alone in the wilderness. Did God’s plan require this 40 year pause? No, it took that long to get Moses where he needed to be in order for God’s plan to be able to use Moses.

I don’t know what Moses prayed while he was in his desert, but if he spent much time praying for God to deliver the Hebrews from Egypt, then those were wasted prayers. What he needed to be praying was for God to show him what needed to be changed within himself. He needed to pray for God to help him change so that God could use him to accomplish God’s plan.

How much prayer time have I wasted praying for the salvation of my children? What am I thinking? Isn’t this a bit arrogant of me? It’s not my plan. . . My children are also God’s children. My time is much better spent praying for God to show me how I need to change so that He can use me in His plan for my children’s salvation. . . the alternative is watching the southern end of northbound sheep for 40 years. . . and I’d like to keep phase of my life that to a minimum. . .


I've received some comments about my use of the word 'wasted' in regards to prayer. 'Wasted' is undoubtedly too harsh of a word. It is not wasted prayer, but prayer time that could have been better spent praying for changes in me, or for wisdom that would help God in his goal for the salvation of my children. If there is an obstacle to someone's being saved, it is never God's will that is the obstacle. We do not need to pray to change that. It is not His will that any should perish. If there is ever an obstacle to a goal of God's, it must be in me for it is never in Him.

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