Friday, February 24, 2017

PERSONAL NOT PROMOTIONAL

A young man was to be sentenced to the penitentiary. The judge had known him from childhood, for he was well acquainted with his father--a famous legal scholar and the author of an exhaustive study entitled, "The Law of Trusts." "Do you remember your father?" asked the magistrate. "I remember him well, your honour," came the reply. Then trying to probe the offender's conscience, the judge said, "As you are about to be sentenced and as you think of your wonderful dad, what do you remember most clearly about him?" There was a pause. Then the judge received an answer he had not expected. "I remember when I went to him for advice. He looked up at me from the book he was writing and said, 'Run along, boy; I'm busy!' When I went to him for companionship, he turned me away, saying "Run along, son; this book must be finished!' Your honour, you remember him as a great lawyer. I remember him as a lost friend."[1]

How tragic that the man had finished his book but lost his son.

When it comes to prayer, there are plenty of people who get caught up in techniques and principles that would manipulate God to respond thus and so.  They are like the judge who wanted to shame the son for not living up to the reputation of his father. 

Eugene Peterson’s translation (The Message) frames the words of Jesus in this way:


Matthew 6:
 7-8"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need.


The judges and shame-teachers sometimes forget that we are like children.  The trust and vulnerability we have before a loving father favours relationship with the Father over selfish gain or proving someone’s point.  To know the comfort and nurture of a loving father is a deeply personal experience. 

Prayer is not about promoting mental techniques, gaining personal power or advantage.  It is about being loved and known by the Father.







[1] Rev. Paul Thangiah, Family, Home Or Call Centre? 2008 Xulon Press, p.67

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

PRIVATE MEETINGS AND PUBLIC PERFORMANCES



Matthew6:
5"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
 6"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.




There will always be people who use prayer as a way of getting attention from others.  It can happen by invading the personal space of others, preaching and judging with the publicly heard content of their words or by hoping that someone watching them will be inspired.

Jesus understood our weakness for wanting attention and showing off.  He invites us to purposely find a quiet place away from others so we can focus on God and not on what the people around us are thinking.

There are those who love the theatrical stage that religion can provide and use it to showboat.  There are also those of us who need seclusion in prayer because we get caught up in wondering what other people in the room are thinking about us.

Do yourself a favour and get alone from time to time.  There you can be yourself in prayer.




Monday, February 20, 2017

ANSWERING OTHERS


Matthew 7:
9   "Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?
10   "Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
11   "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
12   "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


God answers your prayer appropriately with the best, possible solution. There is not a more appropriate responder to human need than the One who created us in the first place. Isn’t this at the heart of justice-- appropriate and fair treatment?  When we pray, God desires to act justly towards us.

In light of God’s good nature to respond appropriately as a loving Father to us, it is not surprising that Jesus’ very next words focus on how we are to treat each other.

If you want people to treat you fairly and justly, then treat them that way.  Some think they can have a love/hate relationship with you and slander you when you don’t answer their requests the way they want you to.

God answers our prayers, and we should have an answer for everyone that asks something of us.



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