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Archive for May 19th, 2020

Do you know how to pray? Where does faith come in? What about doubt? Is it okay to pray for miracles?

When I encounter someone with a prayer request, I immediately offer to pray, then, when I begin to actually speak to God, when I enter consciously into his presence … I stutter with my words.

Perhaps it is because, in coming to him, I recognize how much I need him, how great he is, this one to whom I bow my head.

I have a friend who is struggling in a marriage of abuses and unresolved traumas of the past. When I pray for her, I long for marital healing, for a rebuilding of this broken relationship, for miracles.

Yet, I also have a friend who never received such miracles. Recently we re-connected and she caught me up on the end of that marriage. She said, of the separation, the struggles with that marriage, it is exceedingly more wholesome than the way it was. No miracles, no reconciliation … yet she now has peace.

My brother is now undergoing treatments for cancer. The prognosis with treatment is good … the effects of the treatments are horrific. When I pray for him, I long for miraculous healing, that the effects of the treatments would not cause the damage and pain anticipated.

How are we to pray? What do we say, what do we not say? Are miracles on the table? How about … selfish requests? Do I have enough faith? What about my doubts? Does God alter what the natural world, his plans because we pray?

do you know how to pray?

The Bible has a number of recommendations:

  • ask and be thankful (Philippians 4:6)
  • confess your sins, pray for each other (James 5:16)
  • God will hear our prayers (Jeremiah 29:12)
  • pray so you’re not tempted (Matthew 26:41)
  • call on his name and be saved (Acts 2:21)
  • forgive others (Mark 11:25)
  • pray in secret (Matthew 6:6)
  • confess sins (1 John 1:9)
  • devote yourself to prayer (Colossians 4:2)
  • be faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12)
  • believe and don’t doubt (James 1:6)
  • with confidence (Hebrews 4:16)
  • pray without ceasing, rejoice, give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Then we get thrown off by verses of such black-and-white absolutism …

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

So … we ask and God gives?

Well … yes … and no.

It is blind hope to read this verse and see only the part we want … I will do whatever you ask in my name. What follows is really the main point … so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You see we do not pray to God, except that it comes through his Son. It is the blood of Jesus that has made us right with God, therefore it is through him that God hears our prayers.

Lovely, isn’t it?

Sure it is, until we pause to think about what we are praying for and through whom our prayers pass.

Ellicott’s Commentary speaks to this verse in a reckoning manner :

“The prayer of Gethsemane—“If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done,” should teach what prayer in the name and spirit of Christ means. We commonly attach to our prayers, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We do not always bear in mind that this implies an absolute self-sacrifice, and is a prayer that our very prayers may not be answered except in so far as they are in accordance with the divine will.

When I think about prayer, really think about it, I come to one conclusion … I pray because it is the only ‘help’ I know. There is nothing I can do to change circumstances.

So I offer up my requests, in faith, along with my praise and thanks, trusting the only wise one will either change the circumstances I pray, or that he will change my heart to be more like his own.

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