Friday, November 14, 2008

Prayer Problems

I have long been troubled about the way and why we pray. I think maybe I have possibly figured out what has made me feel "not right" about public prayer, formal prayer, written prayers, prayer meetings, etc.:

1. We think that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is not omnipresent.

Prayers are seemingly directed to a God who is out there or up there or somewhere other than where we are.
God may be in heaven but He claims residence within us. He is not separate from us.
From dena "We don't so much pray to One who is "up there, out there" but to one who is "within, close and inseparable".

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell Sheol, behold, you are there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (Psalm 139:7-12)

Though they dig into hell Sheol, from there my hand shall take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down; and though they hide themselves on top of Carmel, from there I will search and take them; though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, from there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them." (Amos 9:2,3)

"‘Am I a God near at hand,’ says the Lord, ‘and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ . . . ‘do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord?" (Jeremiah 23:23,24)

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3)

2. We think He is not omniscient (all knowing)

Sometimes I think we treat God like a forgetful old man, our prayers are attempts to get Him to remember our situation or bring our problems to the top of His to do list. If He is all knowing does He not already know of our situation?

Matt 6:8 Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Matt 6:31-32 So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

It feels to me like we treat prayer as a formulaic process by which we can get a desired result. We treat God like a cosmic pin ball machine in which if we exert the right forces on the right buttons, levers and springs then we can get the lights and sounds to activate as we desire.

3. We think He is not involved.

We think by being emphatic in our prayer delivery that will help our cause. We think by enlisting the help of others in our implorations that our petition will more likely get the desired result.
We implore God to become aware of our situation and intervene, change or otherwise make it all better for the object of our prayer. Just to be safe we usually add the disclaimer "if it be your will".
Do we believe that if we don't pray God will withhold His care or allow calamity to befall the objects of our prayers?

Matt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matt 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows

I think one of the best prayers we can emit is said in three words, "Thank You Jesus".

Maybe we should take the advice of Jesus:

Matt 6:5-8 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Yes I know He also says, You have not because you ask not. I just think we should consider spending more time talking with Him to build our relationship and not treating Him like a a cosmic genie.

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