Tag Archive: prayer

i mean this is a pretty easy one, right? i don’t think there is anyone out there saying that Jesus didn’t pray or that we don’t need to pray… this feel like something we all know but few of us do… and so it is really just being reminded once again that if Jesus, the Son of God, felt a need to spend time in prayer [or at least modelled the importance of it] then surely… surely it’s time we got our priorities right in this area…

Mark 1 verse 35 to 39

to continue on to Jesus encounter with the leper…

sometimes we might find ourselves at a place where we feel like God is not using us and that can be frustrating… one thing about Jesus is that He always seemed to be on the look out for opportunity and He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer seeking strength and wisdom and insight for the opportunities that He knew would present – so are you asking God and then are you looking out for them and taking action when you see them in front of you?

join me as i continue reading through Mark, 1 vs 29-31

to continue to look at Jesus taking time to pray…

in morning prayer this week we read from Matthew 9.27-34 about how Jesus heals two blind men and frees another man from some demon.

what was interesting about the translation we were reading from was that it said this:

‘As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

When He had gone indoors, the blind men came to Him, and He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.”‘

Wo! Wait one second. Can’t it be according to YOUR faith, Jesus? I think that question would cause me to take a moment and really consider the likelihood of the healing following my answer.

Because when it comes to faith for money or provision or God coming through with an answer on direction or something to speak into a situation, my faith is really strong and in any of those cases i think i would be good with His response or challenge?

But when it comes to healing… hm, not so fast. Do i believe that God CAN heal? Absolutely. Do i believe that He WILL heal?

Um… CHEQUE PLEASE, table 9!

i have prayed for a lot of healing in my life [for other people] and cannot remember ever seeing [beyond a headache or some mild pain] instant healing [in the ways i have heard stories of healing, like this one] and certainly no blind or dead people [yet!] i have seen people get better but i haven’t witnessed [as in personally] people really get healed… like categorically undeniable [oh me of little faith i hear you thinking out loud]

and i am not looking for answers to this question. i am just wanting to share that i have it. if Jesus’ healing of the people i come into contact with is “according to my faith” then they might do better moving on to the next person, cos my faith [in the healing department] has taken a few knocks.

BUT i still believe God can and i still believe He does and so every new time i come across someone who needs healing i try to ask them if i can pray for them and if they say yes [like two people did this last week] then i pray, believing that God can and hoping that He will heal. and the fact that He didn’t [in any discernible way to me] heal either of those two people [have seen at least one of them since] doesn’t make me stop believing. it makes me continue to hunger and question and trust and take opportunities because my faith, when it comes to healing, is more like the father of the demon possessed child in mark 9.24 – Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

i do believe.
but i still call on Jesus to overcome my unbelief.

and keep on, taking new opportunities as they present themselves in the hope that God will let me in on the secret, or the mystery of how it all works some day [not so i can do some kick ass miracles, but so His name will be glorified… and maybe He is still working on me to fully get me from the one to the other]

what struck me immediately about this psalm is where it begins, with a loud chorus of praise to God, acknowledging Who He is:

‘Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.’ [vs.1-2]

that even the heavenly beings must sing praises to God. that is great – often i rush into prayer with my list of needs or cries for help only to be reminded that it is always good to spend some time being still and just knowing this God that i am interacting with – when i take time to focus on God then His heart and character and desire to show Love to His children comes to the fore and the prayers i pray will be more relevant and meaningful anyways and have more of a ring of ‘Your kingdom’ and ‘Your Will’ be done instead of ‘my’ and ‘mine’.

‘The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.’ [vs.8-9]

actually that is what i like about this psalm – it’s a very God psalm – all about Him – The Lord… The Lord… The Lord…
sometimes our prayers should look like this – maybe to remind ourselves more than God that sometimes it’s good for us simply to love Him back and not just come to Him in need or crisis…

some more challenges from ‘Prayer: Does it make any difference?’ by Philip Yancey and you really should get the book:

‘I remembered reading the account of a spiritual seeker who interrupted a busy life to spend a few days in a monastery. ‘I hope your stay is a blessed one,’ said the monk who showed the visitor to his cell. ‘If you need anything, let us know, and we’ll teach you how to live without it.’

We learn to pray by praying, and two concentrated hours a day taught me much. To begin, I need to think more about God than about myself when I am praying. Even the Lord’s Prayer centers first in what God wants from us. ‘Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done’ – God wants us to desire these things, to orient our lives around them.’ [pg. 45]

‘The main purpose of prayer is not to make life easier, nor to gain magical powers, but to know God. I need God more than anything I might get from God.’ [pg. 47]

‘In a telling comment Jesus also said, ‘Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.’ He could not mean that prayer is unnecessary, for His own life belied that. He could only mean that we need not strive to convince God to care; the Father already cares, more than we can know. Prayer is not a matter of giving God new information. Instead of presenting requests as if God may not know them, it might be more appropriate to say, ‘God, you know I need this!’

And that is how Tim Stafford found a sort of resolution to his questions about prayer:

Here, I believe, is the key to understanding what is most personal in prayer. We do not pray to tell God what He does not know, nor to remind Him of things He has forgotten. He already cares for the things we pray about… He has simply been waiting for us to care about them with Him.’ [pg. 50]

to be taken to the start of this series, click here.

more standing out passages and ideas from ‘Prayer: Does it make any difference?’ by Philip Yancey:

‘David Ford, a professor at Cambridge, asked a Catholic priest the most common problem he encountered in twenty years of hearing confession. With no hesitation the priest replied, ‘God.’ Very few of the parishioners he meets in confession behave as if God is a God of love, forgiveness, gentleness and compassion. They see God as someone to cower before, not as someone like Jesus, worthy of our trust. Ford comments, “This is perhaps the hardest truth of any to grasp. Do we wake up every morning amazed that we are loved by God? Do we allow our day to be shaped by God’s desire to relate to us?”

Reading Ford’s questions, I realise that my image of God, more than anything else, determines my degree of honesty in prayer. Do I trust God with my naked self? Foolishly, I hide myself in fear that God will be displeased, though in fact the hiding may be what displeases God most. From my side, the wall seems like self-protection; from God’s side it looks like lack of trust.’ [pg 34]

for the next thoughts on prayer, click here…

some more quotes from ‘Prayer: Does it make any difference?’ by Philip Yancey, which i am really enjoying at the moment:

‘In Jesus’ day tax collectors, prostitutes and unclean persons reached out their hands to receive God’s grace while religious professionals closed theirs into tight fists. In receiving a free gift, having open hands is the only requirement.’ [pg. 23]

‘Most parents feel a pang when the child outgrows dependence, even while knowing the growth to be healthy and normal. With God, the rules change. I never outgrow dependence, and to the extent I think I do, I delude myself. Asking for help lies at the root of prayer: the Lord’s Prayer itself consists of a string of such requests. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God.

A character in one of Henry Adam’s novels cries out in frustration, “Why must the church always appeal to my weakness and never to my strength!” I can think of several reasons. In a world that glorifies success, an admission of weakness disarms pride at the same time that it prepares us to receive grace. Meanwhile, the very weakness that drives us to pray becomes an invitation for God to respond with compassion and power.’ [pg. 27]

‘We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us,’ wrote C.S.Lewis. To put it another way, we must trust God with what God already knows.’ [pg. 32]

for more thoughts from Philip Yancey on prayer, click here.

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