30 August 2016 - clay
Are we on the sidelines or in the game?
I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book about prayer which is titled, oddly enough, Prayer. It’s a fascinating book and one that has really made me consider my approach to prayer and whether or not I take it seriously or not. Keller lays out what some of the church fathers (Luther, Augustine, and Calvin) wrote about prayer, and examines each of them in turn. The book is really a combination of practical wisdom and good theology about how prayer affects us, and how we should approach it.
I’ll be honest and say that this started when I was approached over the summer to be one of the team leaders for a program our church is doing this fall called The Elephant In The Room. Each small group in our church is going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. I was asked by the couple who are heading up the program to be the prayer team leader. I think I said yes initially just so I could be involved and help out the church. As I rolled it around in my head, I began to think more seriously about prayer, and wanted to learn more about it.
This brought me to Keller’s book, which I’ve been slowly digesting over about a month now. I’ve also revisited the chapter about prayer in Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, which is another fantastic book.
All this has made me think about my own approach to prayer, which has sadly been quite lackluster. I’m sure I’m not the only Christian who feels this way, but I think it says something about the modern church that prayer is something that we talk about but so few actually spend time doing. I think sometimes we are spectators to prayer and not participants in it.
What do I mean by this? We ask once and then we sit and wait on the answer. We say we’ll pray for someone or something and then we ignore it. We plead with God for ten minutes to find a solution and then never revisit it. Jesus tells us to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)
Asking implies not just once, but multiple times. Seeking means hunting down the answer that we need, imploring God for what is desired. When you knock on God’s door, you expect to hear an answer. Would you really think that God isn’t home and won’t answer?
Instead of standing by and letting the world happen, prayer changes our vision. Prayer invites us into the activity of God, into the spiritual realm where the true battles are fought. Prayer allows us to draw nearer to God and learn more about ourselves in the process. Paul says in I Corinthians 2 “for who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?” When we commune with God, when we meditate on his word and spend time in his presence, our thoughts align with his. The spirit in us is the Spirit of God.
Get off the sidelines and into the game. It’s really not as difficult as we try to make it. Prayer is simply a conversation between you and the dearest friend you could ever have. It just so happens that friend is the all-knowing creator of the universe and knew you before you were even born. Who better to talk to and learn more about yourself from than the one who made you? Who better to change your outlook on the world and the culture around you than the one who set this all into motion?