Friday, August 27, 2010

Persevering in Prayer

We read Luke 11 this evening in family devotions and this isn't the usual account of the Lord's prayer that I read. I usually read Matthew, but the surrounding context caught my attention. Take a look at verses 1-13.
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"
This is kind of a different blog post in that it is something that I don't really talk about, but it very much fits in with this passage. I don't really like to pray out loud in a group setting. I should rephrase that... I love to pray at any time, but I prefer to pray alone, out loud, with just me and the Lord. I was praying the other night and saying something to the effect of, "God, I feel like I am wearing You out with saying the same kinds of things over and over again. You know what I desire far more than I do, yet I ask again, not because You need to hear me ask again, but because it is good for my heart to keep asking You." I hadn't thought of this passage when I was praying, but I find it interesting that God wants us to not give up when it comes to praying for things that honor Him... the biggest of which is that He would fill us with His Spirit. Prayer is a mystery to me. I don't know exactly how it works... I can't comprehend how He is able to hear me and everyone else at the same time... and how His thoughts about me out-number the grains of sand... yet all these things are true. Prayer is extremely powerful. Do you ever pray for big and scary things? Perhaps things that you aren't even sure about, but you pray out of faith? The kinds of things where you literally tremble as you pray them? I do not always pray this way... in fact, far from it, but He is slowly teaching me to pray. For myself, I have found that praying starts with the knowledge of Him and His character... praising Him for those things and committing to fully believe Him and obey Him because of those things. From there, praying things that I know are His will with absolutely no doubt that He will answer because He has already said it's His will really builds my faith. They are things I know in my head, but with my lack of faith, I need to see it. I'm not saying that we should be the kinds of people that "ask for a sign" when we don't believe, but rather... believing what He has stated is true... for example, I know it's His will that I grow in the grace and knowledge of Him... so I pray specifically for that. I know it is His will for me to grow in humility and patience... so I pray that. I know it's His will that I love Him more... so I pray that. If you don't pray Biblical prayers, I'd challenge you to do so. There are more things than you could pray for in a life-time from scripture... so start now! Commit to be obedient... and pray these big things for His glory in your heart. After I pray these things, I generally bring my requests to Him... the things that I believe are within the boundaries of scripture... things that I believe would glorify Him, yet I do not know if they are part of His perfect plan. I bring these things to Him, "coming boldly before the throne of grace"... to a point that I am often scared to pray. Sometimes I even tell Him that I am scared of Him answering my prayer request... but I trust that He will provide the grace necessary to glorify Him in all things knowing that His plan is perfect and I want nothing other than THAT plan.


Tabitha said...

That's the healthy "fear and trembling" we should have before the Lord. Asking Him to fulfill His will in your life is scary, because He'll do it! I think too many people pray "safe" prayers, and don't ever experience the growth that comes from approaching the Father with boldness, fully knowing that He is the blessed Controller of all things.

Tabitha said...

I always feel so much more peaceful after I pray "scary" prayers, even though it takes a while to get them out. It is unhealthy to keep them locked inside of us because we can do absolutely nothing about them, the Lord alone has the strength and grace we lack to take care of those things. Nearly every day since I returned from Africa I have not been able to describe the mixed emotions of my heart, and so every day all I can pray is, "Lord help, today is going to be hard."

All I can ask is for His strength, and His grace to live as he would have me live in this moment. Right now my heart and mind are not strong enough, and not prepared to look beyond this moment.

Prayer is a great gift; may we not take it for granted, but come before the throne of grace, the source of our strength, "without ceasing."

Daniel Osborne said...

A fair amount of my time is spent in silence before Him. I often feel that I don't know my heart enough to pray for it, but He knows and reveals those things.

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer! Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer! May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer!

Anonymous said...

I know I haven't commented on your blog in a long time, but I've still lurked.
This is something that has been on my mind a lot lately - especially feeling like it's tiresome to pray for the same people, the same things, every day, every week. And I know what you mean about being "scared" to pray for certain things. And then the times my heart is so full of joy or pain or sorrow that I don't quite know what to pray.
Thank you for writing this, Daniel. Do you mind if I link to it on my blog?

Daniel Osborne said...

Glad that you found it to be an encouragement. You are more than welcome to link to it.

Kyle Cheng said...

This is so eye-opening. :) Thanks for sharing this!

Holly Ann said...

Wow..First of all thank you Daniel!
Umm...I have been struggling with this lately..that "fear". I often find it hard to pray for the things I need to pray for, because I dont understand it myself! Dealing with praying for the same thing repeatedly for days, weeks, and years is exhausting, especially when I cant do anything to change what I am praying for. This post helped me out a lot in resting a few thoughts and questions I had for myself. Thanks again!!!