Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More on Prayer

This morning I decided at five minutes before I had to get my daughters up, to write something on prayer that I learned over the weekend. I wanted to get it on the blog because I didn’t know if I would get to it again and I didn’t want to forget.

In chapel this morning we prayed for Professor Groves and the devotional material that Professor Edgars read from fit so closely with what I wrote previously, it moved my heart and helped me to see more clearly how unfaithful I have been to God. I don’t trust His ways, His will, His plan, His desires and that He will work all things for good. I realized that when I pray, I don’t always expect an answer but I should. I’m always surprised when I receive the thing that I prayed for, but I shouldn’t. God says in His word that He will answer our prayers.

Matthew 17:19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" 20 He said to them, "Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you."

Mark 11:22 And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
I was able to find part of the chapel reading on the Internet and I hope it blesses you the way that it blessed me, it is from Martin Luther:
We should pray by fixing our mind upon some pressing need, desiring it with all earnestness, and then exercise faith and confidence toward God in the matter, never doubting that we have been heard. St. Bernard said, "Dear brothers, you should never doubt your prayer, thinking that it might have been in vain, for I tell you truly that before you have uttered the words, the prayer is already recorded in heaven. Therefore you should confidently expect from God one of two things: either that your prayer will be granted, or, that if it is not granted, the granting of it would not be good for you."

Prayer is a special exercise of faith. Faith makes the prayer acceptable because it believes that either the prayer will be answered, or that something better will be given instead. This is why James says, "Let him who asks of God not waver in faith, for if he wavers, let him not think that he shall receive anything from the Lord." This is a clear statement which says directly; he who does not trust will receive nothing, neither that which he asks nor anything better.

From this it follows that the one who prays correctly never doubts that the prayer will be answered, even if the very thing for which one prays is not given. For we are to lay our need before God in prayer but not prescribe to God a measure, manner, time, or place. We must leave that to God, for he may wish to give it to us in another, perhaps better, way than we think is best. Frequently we do not know what to pray as St. Paul says in Romans 8, and we know that God's ways are above all that we can ever understand as he says in Ephesians 3. Therefore, we should have no doubt that our prayer is acceptable and heard, and we must leave to God the measure, manner, time, and place, for God will surely do what is right.
Go read the rest here.

I think it really is hard to balance both not receiving the answer we expected and to expect the answer we ask for. I was thinking, maybe it's like when we share the Gospel with others. We never know who God will save through our words, we are just called to proclaim His words. Maybe we should just pray for everything, knowing that God can answer our prayer and resting in the knowledge that if He doesn't it is for our good. Maybe we should just learn to trust God. I pray, Father that you will help me to trust you, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

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  1. Kim from Hiraeth said...
    Your post brought this to mind from the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards:

    29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
    michele said...
    Very good, thank you.
    Sherry said...
    Thanks Michele. This did, in fact, help quite a bit.
    michele said...
    Good! That's what I'm here for :-)
    Susan said...
    " I realized that when I pray, I don’t always expect an answer but I should. I’m always surprised when I receive the thing that I prayed for, but I shouldn’t. God says in His word that He will"

    I'm glad to know that I'm not the only who experiences this:) How easily we forget what He says in His Word!! Argh

    Thanks for the courage to share it.
    michele said...
    You're welcome :-)

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