May 7, 2016

Psalm 6:1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
or discipline me in your wrath.

I think my head must have been taking a vacation when I chose the passages for this list on prayer, because I just entered “pray*” as a search term and went with what turned up. There are many prayers in the Bible that don’t include that word! David in particular addressed many of his Psalms to the Lord, which makes them prayers whether he used that word in them or not. Any Psalm that starts with “O Lord” is a prayer! John Denver’s song, Rocky Mountain High, has a line that actually describes the sort of prayer life we should aspire to: “Talk to God and listen to the casual reply.” The irony there is that John Denver gave little evidence of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ himself. We should be aware that God always hears us, but that our hearts need to be humble and submitted before Him for there to be real fellowship. The Bible uses the phrase, “God heard me” meaning that a request was granted, but that’s a very limited meaning. Actually, there is nothing that God does not hear, simply because He is God. Today we tend to say, “God answered me” with the same meaning, but that too is inaccurate. Sometimes God’s answer is, “No.” “God granted my request,” would be more accurate. I think Paul’s admonition to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is talking about being aware constantly that God is listening, not just to our words but to our thoughts. Vocal prayer has great value in focusing our thoughts, as well as in praying in unity with others, but you can’t literally be talking constantly (whatever jokes some men might make about some women). However, you can be aware that God is listening even to all your thoughts, and live in grateful appreciation of that reality.

As I have written before, I grew up in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing, and I think that came from this awareness. I wish my awareness of God’s omniscience had led me to more consistent obedience! Today, even as I deal with my own lapses in obedience, I seek to lead others into the intimacy with God that He desires and for which He created us. It can be a pretty frustrating task! Very few people are comfortable with the idea of God hearing everything they say or even think, because they don’t have a good grasp of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. When we believe in Him, we really are children of God, as the New Testament talks about again and again. As human fathers we often fail to listen to our children, but as the perfect Father, God never fails at all. I have to correct people’s image of what a father really is before they become genuinely comfortable with talking with God. Actually, I can’t do that at all in my own wisdom and strength, so I have to depend on the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s love to people’s hearts. Only then will they delight to talk with Him.

Father, thank You for this further expansion of how to talk about prayer. Like John, I do desire that every one of Your children discover all that position means. (1 John 3:1) Help me delight to operate in that position fully myself, so that You in turn may be delighted with me. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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