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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Because of the nature of our God, the Spirit doesn’t just bring us in Christ to the Father—he brings us together to him as the Father’s family.  Therefore we also pray together with Christ as brothers and sisters before our Father.

Communal prayer, then, is the Christian life in a nutshell—the family of the Father coming together to him to share his concerns.  This is why in some ways the prayer meeting is such a battle of flesh against Spirit: will you bludgeon your brothers and sisters with your impressive prayers and actually ignore God, or will you truly go to your Father and seek blessing for them?

—Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life (Leyland: 10Publishing, 2014), 40-41.  Emphasis in original.

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‘In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans’ (Rom. 8:26).  That’s an enormously helpful verse if you’re interested in genuine communion with God.  The Spirit knows that we’re weak, that we struggle to pray and that we often don’t know what to pray—and his desire is to help us.  This means that we don’t need to pretend to be giants in prayer or make resolutions that are out of our league.  Since the Spirit knows our weakness, we can be real with our Father, accepting how babyish we are in our faith, and simply stammer out what’s on our hearts.  …Cry for help.  Don’t try to be impressive.

—Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life (Leyland: 10Publishing, 2014), 37.

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While under Old Testament law the high priest would go into the presence of the Lord in the Holy of Holies on behalf of the rest of Israel, the Son takes us before his Father—and there the Spirit helps us.

—Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life (Leyland: 10Publishing, 2014), 27-28.  Emphasis in original.

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To know you are a beloved child of God protects you from thinking of prayer as a ladder to God or an exercise by which you work your way into his favour.  Prayer doesn’t make you more accepted.  Instead, prayer is growing in appreciation of what you have been given.  It may be that your heart is cold, your love is weak and your prayers are shabby, but what matters is that, united to Christ and in him, you are a cherished son—and your Father delights to hear you.  Of course, with any other God we’d have to come in the strength of our own fervour; with this God we come in his.

—Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life (Leyland: 10Publishing, 2014), 26.  Emphasis in original.

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Jesus’ prayers are not just significant because he’s praying on earth as the model human.  No, he’s also showing who, eternally, he is.  John tells us, ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself’ (Jn. 5:19).  …For him, everything flows from his communion with his Father.  And so for eternity he has enjoyed communion with him and he has prayed to him.

The Son, then, is the first pray-er.  And the salvation he brings is a sharing of his own communion with his Father.  Prayer is learning to enjoy what Jesus has always enjoyed.

—Michael Reeves, Enjoy Your Prayer Life (Leyland: 10Publishing, 2014), 20-21.  Emphasis in original.

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A few years ago I noticed that my study Bible has a note beside the start of Psalm 22: “Unwise Prayers.”  Because God does not forsake His people, apparently the author of the notes took “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” as something that was wrong to pray.  When we see that the psalms are the Holy Spirit teaching us to pray, though, we dare not dismiss it; there are times when it sure feels like we are left alone.

When I hear Psalm 22 preached or read, I almost always hear it put solely in terms of prophesying about the crucifixion.  It is no less than that; the vivid depiction of enemies closing in, of pierced hands and feet, of gambling for clothes and mocking the helpless victim, are startling as we realize that David penned this prayer a millennium before Jesus was born.  But it is also more than that.  These are the words of a specific man, David, praying a specific prayer about specific enemies.  He didn’t just write this so that Christians could point and say, “He’s talking about Jesus!”  He wrote this because his enemies were really out to get him, were clearly winning, and it seemed that the God who had promised him the kingdom had left him to fend for himself.  When we feel all alone, when it seems there’s no way out, when those who hate us jeer and ask us about our all-powerful God that can’t seem to help us now, this is how the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray.

But notice that the psalm doesn’t stop there.  While some psalms leave the matter unsettled (like Psalm 44 and 88), this prayer has a turning point: “You have answered me” (v. 21).  Even as David has been crying out, telling God his troubles, just as we are told to do (1 Peter 5:7), God has been at work rescuing David.  This Lord does not ignore His weak and fragile people, but acts for their good in His good time.  For my brothers and sisters who are asking, “Why have you forsaken me,” don’t despair; do not fear to talk to God about feeling alone, but do not forget that none of His children are forgotten.  Because this God has listened and delivered Jesus from the dead, because He is faithful and has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), we can trust that He will answer, and that He will rescue.

Grace and peace, Mike Yates

 

Originally posted May 7, 2010, at the Bethel Baptist Church Pastors’ Blog, http://bethelnv.wordpress.com/.

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Before panicking, though, take a look at what Dr. Chuck Lawless, Vice President of Global Theological Advance for the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, has to say.  He warns that if we have been counting on a program, a slogan, or a series of initiatives to ensure evangelism and missions will move front and center in the SBC, we’ve been sadly misguided.  Only desperate, prayerful dependence on God will do.  A thought-provoking pair of articles available at Baptist Press:

“Time to Give Up on the GCR (part 1)”

“Time to Give Up on the GCR (part 2)”

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