Monday, September 03, 2007

The Gift Of Prayer

Hello All,

As I reported some time ago, our church did a week of prayer and fasting. It was a very revealing time for me, causing me to think through some things that I had come to believe about prayer. It sort of began with a commute that was prolonged by a significant SIG alert. I had been on the road for an hour, but it was about to become two. I had run through my shopping list of prayer items and was now out of things to bring before the Lord for that day. When I had nothing to say, I sort of wondered what my purpose was for being there any longer and that's how this began.

As a Christian, I have attended thousands and thousands of prayer meetings. Because I am a Pastor as well, I can add a few thousand more, having even come from one just last night at our church! What I am about to say is not an indictment upon any person or group of persons who have been at these events. However, there is a general set of truths that seem to universally cover each one I have attended.

Most times, there is an attitude that bespeaks an American view, that we are there to get business done. We've got a list, an agenda and we are going to roll through it! I have nothing against bringing requests or petitions, nor do I believe that we should not have something in our hearts corporately, that we want to see accomplished or partnered in. The problem for me has been that I have taken this attitude into my own prayer life!

Does this mean that I am against requests or petitions? Not in the slightest! I make them frequently and it would be an unbiblical statement to condemn that practice. What I am saying though is this: The purpose of prayer is an alignment of our hearts to the heart of God and the enjoyment of His presence with us and not so much about seeing an ageeable result!

What makes me say this? I was thinking about the teaching of the "Lord's Prayer," which in reality is the "Disciples' Prayer." Jesus told the disciples that when they pray, the first thing that they should say was "Our Father who art in heaven..." This would have been a radical departure from most of the Rabbinic and Levitical priest teaching of that day. The Old Testament is built on the radical separation between Man and God, called Holiness! Jesus is here telling His disciples, the first thing you recognize when you are praying is that you are praying to "Your Father."

I believe now more than ever, that our coming to prayer should be tied up in this reality of relationship. It should be a celebration of that reality! "God, the Creator, the Redeemer, the King, IS MY FATHER!!" When I come into His presence, I want to come first and honor who He is and recognize who I am in the process. I am His Son! In a very real way, I want my prayer times to have the same organic comfortability that I would have with my Father.

There are some who would argue at this point that we can never have such a feeling on Earth! That would be completely unbiblical in light of the teaching of the Word in Ephesians, that says that we now have ACCESS to the Father, and again in Hebrews, where we are beckoned to come BOLDLY into His presence!

What do I feel normally? What have I engendered in my prayer life? An attitude that lowers God from His Fatherly position, to a Secretary's position, by just going through my shopping list of prayer items! "Did you get that? Oh, and I want this changed immediately!"

Instead, I want my prayer life to reflect my relationship with my Father, where I sit and listen and let Him bring my heart into alignment with His Heart toward my circumstances and towards the things in life that I would like to see changed. Then, in a very real sense, I am bringing HIS requests out, versus the ones that I would give from my own heart, loaded with my own agenda and desires. And when I am praying God's requests, the answers will inevitably "YES AND AMEN!"

Do I have a verse for that? Take a look at John 15:7,8.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

What I have been describing is what I feel the secret of abiding is! How will this come to pass? How will my prayer life look in a year? I am not quite sure. Before any good change can happen in one's life, one has to see a problem, get rid of the accumulation of poor habits that have contributed to the problem and THEN, move into growing some good habits. I am considering these options:

* Actively listening first, asking for a clear direction for my prayer.

* Renouncing any suggestion in my mind that I know what is best or presuming that I would know what is best!

* Letting God bring to mind any requests that would be on His heart for me.

Now, granted, I am not suggesting that I will no longer be praying the following types of prayers: "Lord Help Me!" or "Lord, don't let that Cop see me!" Remember, I am not speaking about prayer in the moments of crisis. There will be times when my prayers will be the most simple, direct shouts to the heavens! But that's not what I am talking about here! I am talking about intentional times of prayer, when I am fostering, enjoying and spending time exploring the heart of God.

In the end, what the practice of prayer will produce, will be less about results and more about the enjoyment of God, and the desire to be in His presence.

Does any of that make sense? I suppose that what I have presented is more theory than experience. Maybe in a year, I will have a report of something phenomenal. Then again, it might be much sooner!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

4 comments:

blythe said...

i found frank sanchez's blog. how fun. !

hellooo phranc!

Frank & Lela said...

Blythe!!!

Hey there! Glad you found us out here on the Western Shore! Make sure to check out the previous post with the video I was telling you about yesterday.

Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings,
F.S.

Carrie Allen said...

frank, good thoughts. I have a class this semester where our whole purpose is to write a really good research paper. I have been thinking about what I want to write on and I have decided that I want to write about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and what the costs are. Obviously, this is a little broad and I need to narrow it down. After reading what you had to say I am kinda thinkin' it would be sweet if I did what a "true disciples" prayer life looked like...hmmm....I will have to PRAY about this ;)

Frank & Lela said...

Carrie,

All I ask for is credit!! Just quote me one time in your paper, even if you use this comment! :)

Thanks for the encouragement! I hope that school is going well for you...your supposed to be there you know!

Blessings,
F.S.