Pike’s Point on Prayer
Let’s be real y’all. Sometimes writing this devotional is not that easy. There are times we’ve already been thinking on a subject or really diving into a text or passage and the ideas flow pretty freely. All that’s left is editing.
Then there are times like this where we are strung out with 384 things on the to-do list and it’s just another reason to be depressed about how much there is on the to-do list. So I was scrounging around for a subject to write about and three days later had bupkis. Got to stressing about it a little and so Martha suggested that I pray about it.
So…guess what we’re going to talk about. We’re gonna talk about prayer.
This is quite possibly the last subject in the world I’m qualified to talk about. I myself do not feel like any type of “prayer warrior.” I do not wear holes in my jeans and have two knee sized divots in the floor by my side of the bed. I do not make it a point to never miss the prayer meetings and sometimes The National Day of Prayer passes by without me knowing it until someone mentions it the following week.
Matter of fact the times in my life where I fell by the side of my bed in prayer have either been because I was in mental anguish at the end of my rope or I just decided I wanted to earn some spiritual brownie points that week. Then there are those times when I’ve been getting in bed and decide that I sincerely want to bring a petition before the Lord for someone in need whom I love. I begin to pray and I am so happy to be talking with the Lord… then all of a sudden He gets a dial tone on His end and the next thing I know, it’s morning. These are not the brighter moments in my Christian experience.
And while we’re being honest, I have a tendency to think better of myself when I hear other people pray ritualistic or even nonsensical prayers out loud in churches. Ok, so I might have just lost some of you there because I know that none of you do that. “What kind of person is this guy anyway? Judging other people’s prayers!”
Now that I have officially convinced the majority of you that you never need come to this old sinner’s concerts any more, let me just assure you that I do pray. Obviously, I need the Lord’s help badly! However, I have a LONG way to go in developing my prayer life. This study is as much for Martha and myself as it is for anybody.
My prayer life mostly centers around those times when I am in the moment and I don’t have time or ability to take the iconic “kneeling, hands together pointed skywards, and eyes respectfully closed” pose. Maybe I’m in the middle of some stressful predicament and just have no other recourse, no words, no ideas, and little hope of it ending well — in Dallas rush hour traffic with Martha driving and…(she’s a perfectly wonderful driver, but the other people are psychotic) I don’t need to break out loudly into a prayer in that moment about how God controls all things and something pertaining to how this is working for our good and tribulation worketh patience. Martha would have every right to wreck at that point.
That’s when Paul comes to my rescue:
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
Now that might mean that God wants me to hole up in a monastery somewhere and forsake life as I know it, or maybe that every Christian should be a babbling robot wandering around in society, or just maybe… that we are to maintain a constancy with God where He is our first recourse and not our last when we are in a pinch, or tired, or happy, or sad, or just blah.
There must be more to this than what meets the eye.
I love what happened when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. If I had been there and asked Him that, I would have had a lot of expectations. I mean, seriously, this is the guy who tells me that if I ask God to remove mountains, He will do it for me. So that being the case, I’m expecting Jesus to whip out His brand new book “7 Keys To Living The Miraculous Life” or “Your Best Prayer Life Now” or something. That just proves that I’m human and Jesus is divine.
Our Father in heaven – This is the hinge on which prayer turns. If God is not my Father, then I have no confident expectation that God hears my prayer, much less will answer it. If I am not God’s child, I am an enemy of God, not a member of the family. If I am God’s child, I know He hears me, no matter what.
Hallowed be Your name – The underlying desire of prayer is to see God’s name proclaimed holy and vindicated. The proof is in the puddin’, so to speak, so I may call God “Father,” but if I don’t care about His honor and His glory — if I don’t love Him — I’m no child of His, no matter how much I say “Lord, Lord.”
Your kingdom come – Honestly, this is a scary thing to pray. Before I was married, it was “Lord, Your kingdom come, but not before I get married.” When we have children it’ll be “Lord, Your kingdom come, but not before my children are right with You.” Then it’ll be “not before my grandchildren are right with you.” But no, there’s no exceptions. Your kingdom come, and come quickly Lord Jesus. And until that day, rule and reign in all that I have any influence over. It’s not mine. It’s Yours, and I trust You.
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – Christ is chipping away at my preconceptions about prayer one by one. It’s not about who I am, it’s about who God is. It’s not about my honor, it’s about God’s honor. It’s not about my kingdom, it’s about God’s kingdom. It’s not about my will, it’s about God’s will. I’m coming to God, filled with my issues and my wants and my hurts, and Christ says “Come, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” But that rest is found in seeing my life through the lens of my relationship with God, His character, and His kingdom. Before Christ ever gets to any sort of personal petition, He’s telling me to lay my will on the line and ask for God’s will to be done, even if God’s will is at cross purposes with my own.
(Now we get to the good stuff — the part where we ask God to work on our behalf and see great and mighty things done. Oh boy! And Christ has told us we can ask anything we want, so this is going to be really juicy. I’ve been waiting for this!)
Here we go:
Give us this day our daily bread – So really, I’m thinking at this point that God doesn’t have much of a vision for the future. I mean, how about give us this day my yearly IRA contribution or give us this day our daily taxes (love this time of the year) or …. fill in the blank. But no. Give me, just for today, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Give me, for today, what I need. I don’t need tomorrow’s need met today. Although… the deadline for taxes will be “today” before we know it, Lord. Just throwing that out there…
And forgive us our debts – I love the line from that old hymn “Come Thou Fount” that says “Oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.” Because the thing is, I’m asking for not only daily bread, but daily forgiveness and cleansing from sin. And I need the daily cleansing from sin just as much if not more than I need my daily bread.
As we also have forgiven our debtors – This makes the previous part conditional. If I am not willing to forgive when I have been forgiven so much, then I am to expect that my Father will discipline me. Why? Because I am not the sole recipient of my Father’s love. He loves ‘my debtors’ too. And if He loves them, I am to love them.
And lead us not into temptation – Another line from “Come Thou Fount” is “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” How true that is. And we will learn it, either by God leading us into experiences where we learn our weakness, or by us knowing and acknowledging our weakness every day — Lead me not into temptation, Lord, because I am so prone to wander. Keep me from failing You.
The Holy Spirit not only cleanses me from sin, but also helps me identify it and keeps me from it. The closer I get to the Scriptures and the more I hide it in my heart, the more readily I will be kept from it – “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”
But deliver us from evil – I as a Christian am not to fear the work or power of the enemy, but I am to be the first to recognize that I am a new creation in Christ, but still living in a fleshy carcass. I need God’s power and help to overcome evil both inside myself, and outside.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever – Everything that is, was, or ever will be is God’s domain, all the power to transport us from sin to righteousness is His work, and in the end there will be no glory attributed to me. It all is His.
Ok, so that’s as far as I’ve gotten with this. Is there more to prayer? A lot more. Do I have a long way to go? All the way until I die. Will I mess up along the way? Probably before this day is over. Does God hear when I pray according to what I know to be true about Him and with the purposes of His Kingdom in mind?
Miles & Mar