Friday, March 6, 2015

The Vastness and Simplicity of Prayer

    Prayer involves a subject too vast for our comprehension, while also being simple enough for our application.  

    "We know not what to pray for as we ought… By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Romans 8:26; Philippians 4:6).

    The vastness of prayer involves the fact that we commune with the infinite God in our praying.  Little wonder that the Apostle Paul declares our inadequacy regarding such communication.  What does one say to Another possessed of heart, mind, presence, and power beyond all imagining, particularly when one possesses nothing of the sort?  As my wife Frances recently mentioned, "If we physically encountered the presence of the Lord Jesus, we probably wouldn't be too wordy!"  Indeed, the Apostle John saw the risen Christ, and proceeded to fall before Him as dead (Revelation 1:17).  So much for wordy!  Thus, prayer presents a monumental challenge to us in the sense that God is God, and we are not.

    The Bible nevertheless calls us to pray, and to do so in confidence of Divine aid.  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" declared Paul (Philippians 4:13).  Few callings more require "through Christ" as the enabling power, and we can be confident that the Holy Spirit leads and empowers us in prayer as we trust and submit to Him.  In fact, by definition, prayer involves the frank admission of our need as we ask our Lord to do that which we cannot do, or we seek His grace to enable the fulfillment of that which we can only do through Him.  This fosters a profound simplifying of our communication with God as we make our approach in the humility that, again, acknowledges God as God, and ourselves as not God.
    In practical terms, our primary sensibility as we seek the Lord involves the recognition of His perfect and infinite wisdom, while realizing our profound lack thereof.  "His understanding is infinite… We know not what to pray for as we ought" (Psalm 147:5).  We mainly ask the Lord to do in hearts, lives, circumstances, and situations that which He sees fit to accomplish rather than attempt to inform God based upon our own limited awareness and opinion.  This does not preclude praying about details.  It does, however, purify and refine our communion with the Lord.  It simplifies it actually, making prayer an accessible and manageable reality far more likely to be practiced because we view the gift in the God-centered terms of His indescribable greatness and our utter dependence.  

     "Son of man, can these bones live?" asked the Lord of His prophet regarding the valley of osseous death and decay.  A.W. Tozer suggested that Ezekiel's response was perhaps the wisest utterance ever offered by a fallen human being.  "Thou knowest, Lord!" (Ezekiel 37:1-3).  We do well to carry such a sensibility into our prayerful utterances.  In many cases, this may lead to fewer words in our prayers (not necessarily a bad thing).  It will, however, lead to much more heart as we pray in the light of God's reality, and our reality.  Indeed, prayer is too vast for even the best and brightest among us.  However, it is simple enough for the least and weakest among us, that is, for who pray in the the brilliant light of His glory and our dependence thereupon.

"Thou art God alone!"
(Psalm 86:10)
"We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."
(II Corinthians 1:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
(II Thessalonians 2:16-17)

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