Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ponderings on Prayer (Part 4)

In the last ramblings on prayer, I discussed the idea that the things that we do physically...and the way that we approach God mentally...they can make a difference. Now I want to ask, do you agree with that, with the idea of approaching with such humility? Does it matter how we approach Him? If so, why?

Jesus tells us so much about prayer, and how God gives to us. When teaching His disciples to pray, He tells them that God already knows what they need before they ask. He tells them that "Everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifs to those who ask him!" Later, He says, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Finally, He says, "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven."

Those sound like some pretty powerful promises to me! So are we to approach the throne of Almighty God expecting such? I believe so. The Hebrew writer says so. He tells us to approach the throne with confidence. So how does that coincide with the idea of approaching Him with humility???

Confession time: It is hard for me to approach Him with confidence sometimes. It really is. Because the fact is, we don't always get everything we pray for. We just don't. Most recently and specifically, many in my church have prayed for an 8-year-old boy to be healed of a brain tumor. That cancer took his life last week. Many in my church have also prayed for the healing of Brent, only to receive the report from the doctor that the complete healing we so desperately want for him will be extremely unlikely. These are just a couple of examples.

So how do you deal with that??? How do you approach with confidence, in light of such issues???
The only example I know to look to is that of our Savior. Did Jesus ever pray for anything and not get it??? When Jesus was in the Garden the night before He was crucified, He prayed like I've never prayed before. Dr. Luke tells us something very interesting, something that the other gospel writers leave out. He tells us that Jesus' sweat was like drops of blood. This is an actual medical condition, called hematidrosis. It is a symptom of extreme stress, in which the blood vessels around the sweat glands actually rupture and blood is secreted into the sweat glands. Have you ever been that stressed out about something??? I know I haven't. But our Savior was...that's how desperately He prayed that night, as He begged, "Dad, if there is any other way..."

Was that prayer answered???

I'm gonna go out on a limb here (and hope that I don't get struck by lightning as I type this) and say that God did not answer that prayer, at least not in the sense that Jesus did not receive exactly what He wanted. But I think this verse, written by one of His followers, might give us a clue, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!"

Jesus' prayer was answered, however, because His attitude was one of submission to the will of His Father, as He prayed, "Not my will, but Thine..."

So my question to you all then is do we find that balance??? How do we find the happy medium between approaching God with confidence that He will answer our prayers, and at the same time coming to Him in humility, trusting Him to know better than we do...even when we don't understand the momentary answers that He gives???

On a previous prayer pondering, I received the comment, "Fasting has led me to believe that when God's answer is negative, it's never just "no;" it's "no, but wait." I can't prove it. I just believe it."

I want to believe that, too.

Sometimes, it's just easier said than done.


Keith Brenton said...

I still can't prove it.

I just believe it.

Even for little Lawson. Even for Brent. Even for Jesus in the Garden.

It gets better in eternity for those who wait on the Lord, even if their strength is not renewed in this life; even if they cannot walk without growing weary or run without growing faint. Someday we mount up on wings like eagles and soar.

And if anticipating that inf faith doesn't make things a little better; a little more bearable in this life, too ... well, I don't think it's God's fault.

His mercies never fail.

mmlace said...

I don't think that it's God's fault, either, Keith. I know that, in the long run, He does know what's best. And I may never understand, at least not in this life, some of the answers that He gives.

But sometimes that makes it hard for me to approach with confidence that He will give what I ask for. I just struggle w/finding that balance between trusting Him to give what I ask for and knowing when to trust that He gives what I need rather than what I ask for.



I've enjoyed reading your thoughts on prayer...

Have a Merry Christmas!