Prayer

God’s Purpose in Prayer

God is doing something big inside praying people. He is not primarily interested in our coming one by one as single, solitary individuals, asking for certain things, receiving them, and then going off by ourselves and remaining unchanged during the whole process. God will not have that, because He is far more interested in us than in what we ask – although that does certainly interest Him.

Instead God is working to change us through our asking, through all that He allows to come into our lives, through the Scriptures, through the Holy Spirit, through the providences, the hard things, the hurtful things, and the happy things. He is active in all these things to shape us into the likeness of Jesus, so that we will be at the place where the Holy Spirit is able to intercede, work, and plead inside us, reflecting the tones of the voice of Jesus.

Ultimately, it its not so much what we ask, but who we are when we pray that counts the most.

– Douglas Kelly, pp. 82-83.

God’s Sovereignty and Our Prayers

The sovereign God on His throne, who has planned all things from the beginning to the end, has arranged His plan in such aa way that the prayers of the saints are one of the major means He uses to accomplish His final goal. Instead of the sovereignty of God clashing with the prayers of the believer, the two actually presuppose one another and fulfill and undergird one another.

– Douglas Kelly, If God Already Knows – Why Pray?, p. 53

Sermon Text for January 29th – Matthew 6:11-15

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Click here for the sermon audio.

Our Father in Heaven

Just to pray to a God who is “in heaven,” is a warning against contemporary domestication of God. Here is God who is not some pale image of ourselves and our best aspirations. This God doesn’t live here in our country, is not housed within our sanctuaries. God the Father rules from heaven. So don’t be confused by some Christian talk about “a personal relationship with Jesus,” as if this were the whole point of the Christian faith – to get cozy and comfy with God. The God whom we address with the intimate, “Father” is also “in heaven.” The God revealed in the Jew from Nazareth, Jesus, is the God who moves the sun and the stars.

– Hauerwas & Willimon, Lord, Teach Us, p. 37.

Not Just Any Ol’ Prayer

By praying the Lord’s Prayer we are being made into a people whose journey is a sign to the world that God has not abandoned the world to its own devices but is present as a people on the move, a people moving out from their old ways and means, ordinary people who have been given the extraordinary authority to be part of the divine assault upon the realm of evil as those who “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13).

– Stanley Hauerwas & William Willimon, Lord, Teach Us, p. 14.

A Great Comfort Indeed

It is comforting to know that even though you don’t always feel like a Christian, though you do not always act like a Christian, much less believe like a Christian, your relationship as a friend of God is not based on what  you have felt, done, or believed. Rather, you are friend with God because of God’s choice of you in Jesus through the church.

– William Willimon & Stanely Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer & The Christian Life, p. 27.