Friday, July 22, 2016

My Problem with Prayer

I’ve a problem with prayer Lord. 

Not with the fact of prayer. Rather it is with the way I tend to pray. Without wanting to be critical Lord, I also have a problem with the way many others express it too. I read such passages as Romans 15:30-32 and then see its outworking as being different to what was asked. ‘I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed.

In that passage Paul asks his readers to join him in his struggles. They can do this through prayer. I’m assuming that such co-strugglers have him on their prayer list and know about his needs. He does go on to list a couple of the problems which he sees looming up. The Greek word for ‘struggle’ comes from a word describing a fight witnessed in the public games. It is an engagement in conflict. Paul wants his readers to join him in a fight. He invites them to contend with the forces opposing the Gospel and the glory of Jesus. In this case, it is centred in the ministry of Paul.

Would I sign up to that?

My prayers seem to belong to the lounge room, not the fighting arena.

My concern stems from the fact that Paul wasn’t saved from the Jewish authority’s entrapment. (Acts 21:27- 26:32) They got him on trumped up charges. He got out of these by appealing to Caesar. What went wrong with prayer?

I’ve prayed for a variety of matters. Some answered, quite a few not. I’ve heard some rather strong prayer requests, especially for healing, which go unresolved. (We are clever in explaining that away) What I do see in Paul’s journey to Jerusalem is that you were answering his and their prayers - but he wasn’t listening. Agabus told him what waited if he, Paul, went to Jerusalem. The apostle was adamant, willing to suffer and die for the cause. Commendable it may be but was it your first choice for him? You over ruled so as to fulfil your Word to him about talking the gospel to kings, including Caesar. On the matter of his specific request it was not answered. Why? It appears that his determination to be in Jerusalem made him deaf to the way you were answering his prayer requests.

I stand guilty Lord of doing the same thing. I confess however that in your mercy you over-ruled the ‘deafness’ and its consequences. You were able to fulfil your purposes another way. I am so grateful for your foreknowledge and faithfulness.

That’s my problem Lord. I pray and then proceed to do my interpretation of how you will answer the prayer. Forgive me is my plea. Make me more attentive and sensitive to your promptings

            Prayer is essential I know, otherwise, you wouldn’t have asked us to pray.

            Therefore Lord, teach me to pray.’

            Prayer is more than a lounge room activity. It’s made for the arena.

            Therefore Lord, train me in prayer.

            Prayer is on behalf of others, more than on myself.

            Therefore Lord, show me those for whom you want me to pray.

            Prayer is allowing me the privilege of participation in the ministry of another.

Therefore Lord, I thank you for prayer.

©Ray Hawkins 2016.
check Ray's blogsite for his bio and books etc.

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