Thursday, October 13, 2005

on prayer...

I guess I shouldn't apologize for long posts cuase here is another one:
I had to prepare this statement for one of my classes and I post here for your perusal...
Prayer is communion with God. That is prayer is the expression of a relationship with God at any level. This communication could be best described as a conversation where each side communicates with the other in many different ways. The efficacy of prayer then needs to be measured in the quantity and quality of communication that happens between the two parties, God and people. To measure the efficacy of prayer only using the parameters of granted requests or quality and nature of those requests is to put limitation on God as a store room clerk serving humanity as customers. This view of prayer as primarily requests, limits the true nature of prayer. As communion with God prayer becomes and alignment and realignment of our hearts with God and his with ours. It requires both speaking and listening. We speak to God with all of our lives. My philosophy professor at Steinbach Bible College, Archie Penner, is quoted as saying, “Prayer is your life and your life is a prayer.” Properly understood this statement reveal how crucial prayer is to the spiritual sustenance of the believer and how the life of each person is a prayer either for God and his purposes or against him and his purposes. We can then understand requests of God in light of our own relationship with him. We can neither presume upon him to intervene in time and space for our own benefit or anyone else’s no matter how righteous our motivations or lifestyle nor cease to ask him diligently for our perceived needs and desires as an expression of our own utter dependence on God. We are exhorted to continuously bring our petitions to God (1Thess. 5:17; Eph. 6:18) and that even in our ignorance the Holy Spirit acts as interpreter and intercessor on our behalf (Romans 8:26). It is easy to see how God, longing for intimacy with humanity, challenges us to present every aspect of our lives before him in submission. In this way prayer is not primarily a human activity. While it is true that God can choose to respond to our prayers by changing the circumstances of life, this cannot be the main focus of prayer. The power of prayer is then found in its ability to bring us into communion with God. This redefines our common understanding of the prerequisites for effective prayer.
It is easy to see that, no matter what spiritual condition the individual is in, prayer can be effective in drawing the individual into deeper communion with God. In the same way if my professor is right then the spiritual condition of our lives inextricably affects prayer. It seems clear from scripture that requests of God that come out of immaturity or a lack of discipline in our call to holy living, do not meet with God’s approval. And while the grace of God allows us access to the depth of his forgiveness, our intentional presumption upon that grace through sloppy lives of ignorance to faithfulness to God, displeases God and breaks down the depth of communion we are able to experience with him. As result we should not expect that requests made in this condition will be granted.
Prayer has a unique context in the life of the church. Jesus tells us that where two or three are gathered in agreement in his name, requests will be granted (Mt. 18:19-20). This is a perplexing statement. It is obvious that Christ wants to communicate the importance of agreement by believers and that the process of agreement is crucial to presenting a request with legitimacy before God. However it is also important to know that Christ was using this statement as validation of his own authority as part of the God-head. In essence he was saying that prayers offered in his name were as legitimate as the prayers offered to God in their old system. It is important to note that this passage also conveys spiritual authority to the body of believers in the spiritual realm. Clear instructions are given about the importance of humility and righteousness for the individual praying in the gathered body and Paul explain that prayers offered need to consider how they build up the body. Prayer in the church is corporate conversation with God as well.
Prayer is a deeply mysterious interaction between the King of Kings and his subjects. It is full of the nuances of conversation with call and response. Ours is the glorious benefit of such a wonderful encounter with the awesome God in personal immediate connection. It is our responsibility to learn well the discipline that is prayer.

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