For now, I must take a brief hiatus from the Art and the Gospel posts. I find my mind to be stuck on some thoughts about prayer at the present moment. Now as one who used to be a mystic of sorts, employing a variety of rather odd calisthenics praying in the woods and various places, I must say that I have become quite skeptical of those who cleave to the mystical power of prayer for the precise reason that it is prayer. The power is not found in prayer, but in the One whom we call Lord. For example, see Dutch Sheets book Intercessory Prayer where in chapter 2 he states that God needs man. He needs man to pray, needs man to preach, needs man to be faithful etc. “Doesn’t He need us to ask for His kingdom to come, His will to be done?” Such a thought places the emphasis of the power and grandeur and glory upon prayer and the individual praying rather than upon Him who is able to strengthen you according to the Gospel, to the only wise God, to whom be the glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen!
Here are a couple of thoughts on prayer that I find helpful to somewhat deflate my pride before God:
– Prayer itself reminds us of our inability and God’s sovereignty.
– Don’t try to be overly eloquent as that is not in itself an indicator of passion or sincerity.
– Don’t intentionally try to be ineloquent or vernacular as that seldom denotes authenticity.
– Your prayers speak little of your righteousness (Luke 18:9-14), but if they are sincere display the greatness of God.
– “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
– “For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)
– John Bunyan once said that even in his best prayers there was enough sin to damn the whole world to hell. The prayer of a Christian is an exercise in Gospel faith.
– Gospel prayers forever bear in mind the life and sacrifice of Christ as the righteous merit by which we approach the high and exalted throne of God.
– Praying with humility will bring about a change of heart, so that God’s will, glory, and honor (ultimately the Gospel) will go forward rather than you experiencing personal vindication.
One more thought: I get email updates from Gospel for Asia about the persecution our brothers and sisters are facing in that region of the world. I will be posting these prayer needs from time to time for all of us to put these things into practice.