Friday, August 12, 2011

Some More On Prayer

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. [1 Corinthians 10:32-33 NIV]

It has been for that reason that I have been quite reluctant to speak openly about what our Heavenly Father has taught me about prayer.  For the last thing I want to do is to cause someone to stumble along their way to truly having a very close and personal relationship with Him.

Nonetheless, there are times when He pushes me to dive into some very uncomfortable waters.  Hence, [Expository Prayers].

If you will check-out the comments, you will see where [Lavender Darwin] called me out on a statement that I went too far with in an earlier comment.  He also made a couple of points in defense of public prayers.

One of those points was in reference to Matthew 6:6, which helps to support what I have been given to say.  For it is written: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [Matthew 6:6 NIV]

Oh, but I have been brought much closer.  For I have been allowed and enabled to be in almost constant communication with our Heavenly Father, which is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he encouraged the members of the church in Thessalonica to [pray without ceasing].  Be assured that this applies to anywhere at all times.

Please, do not think that I am bragging about this.  For what I have been given is a very special gift from our Heavenly Father, which I have done absolutely nothing to deserve.

Moreover, it is a gift that is available to all who will but want to accept it.  For it is written: “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”  Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.  “All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” [John 14:15-26 NIV]

Yes, there is another point that Lavender made.  For he referenced [Acts 4:24] as an example of the members of the first church openly praying in public, and I must admit that it had me at a loss at first.  Then our Heavenly Father pointed out to me that they were just not used to the constant presence of His Holy Spirit yet.

So, does this mean that the same applied to Christ Jesus while He walked amongst us in the flesh?  For there are many examples of Him going off to pray.

No, it most certainly does not.  For those prayers were meant to serve as both an example of how to talk to our Heavenly Father and as written confirmation of just how deeply They care about us.  For it is written: After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.  While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.  I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.  My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” [John 17:1-26 NIV]

Come on now, do you really think that Christ Jesus needed to file a report?  For even if you want to believe that He really was just a man not so unlike any of us at the time, would He feel it necessary to tell the One who is all-knowing and always-present what had been going on?

No, there is nothing necessarily wrong with kneeling down with your small children to pray—nor anyone else, for that matter, but the closer you are drawn to our Heavenly Father, the more it should become clear to you that only those who do not really know Him are comfortable with public prayers.  For those who really do know Him in a very close and personal way understand just how dissatisfying MOST public prayers truly are unto our Heavenly Father.

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7 comments:

Lavender Darwin said...

Well Fishwawk, I have to disagree with you on this one. The comment about the church in Acts praying together and how "they were just not used to the constant presence of His Holy Spirit yet" really seems a little bit dodgy to me. I have a hard time reading these examples of the early church in Acts with an outlook of, "Well, they hadn't really figured things out yet." I DO agree that private prayers are FOUNDATIONAL for the lives of Christians, but additionally I believe that Scripture speaks to the importance of public prayers as well (granted, I do think there are wrong forms of public prayer, like the Lutheran practice of absolution, which I think is a quasi-catholic carry-over with no basis in scripture) but the Bible has a number of examples beyond just Acts in which someone prays collectively with others. Here are a few:

1 Chronicles 29:10
[ David’s Prayer ] David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, LORD, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting"

2 Chronicles 6:12-15ff
[ Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication ] Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high,[a] and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. He said: LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.
(prayer continues through to end of chapter, to v.42)

Granted, Rick Perry is no Solomon, but how far off is he in dedicating his campaign to God in prayer?

FishHawk said...

Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Lavender!!! As I have told you before, I was where you are now before the change, and it will not be until you start to experience it for yourself that you will start truly seeing things through our Heavenly Father's eyes--perhaps even more so than He has allowed and enabled me to.

Yes, what Gov. Perry did was not so unlike what Solomon was instructed to do. For he did indeed dedicate his presidential campaign to God in prayer, but it should not be assumed that what He had others do in the past applies to anyone else until specifically told otherwise by Him.

Lavender Darwin said...

You know, in terms of prophecy, I'm fine with it when it serves to perhaps reveal a truth of the Scriptures or in some way give guidance or certainty - I don't think I'm a complete cessationist in that regard. But the problem becomes when the leading doesn't jive with Scripture, and that's when I sort of sit back and scratch my head. Much like Mormonism, Catholicism or cults like that, when they teach things that don't sync with what Scripture teaches or examples, then one of the two things is incorrect. And I'm a sola scriptura-sortof guy.

FishHawk said...

Ah, but the key, my dear Lavender, is whether or not one fully understands what was meant by this or that. After all, we can use our Heavenly Father's Holy Scriptures to justify almost anything we want (slavery, rape, murder, rule by divine right, racial supremacy, no Hell, no sin, etc., etc.) and without the witness of His Holy Spirit, all any of us can have is our own understanding to truly have faith in. For how can any of us really know for sure that the Bible is anymore true than the Quran without Him, and if He truly is there to converse with directly, who in their right-mind would insist that just having the book that He had written about Himself and the righteousness of all of His most awesome ways is good enough for them?

FishHawk said...

Again, please believe that I don't mean to be insulting. For I was just like you before the change, and that did not happen until I felt like all hope for me was lost.

No, this does not mean that the same must happen to all. For some are not as prideful as I was, but in far too many cases, they are, which means that they will need to be crushed before being remolded in His refining fire.

Lavender Darwin said...

How the believer fully understands the Scripture comes not necessarily alone from the Holy Spirit telling you how to interpret - granted, I pray each Sunday morning that the Holy Spirit anoints the teaching of the Word when the pastor teaches. But at the same time, I abide by the principle that Scripture backs Scripture. Understanding the context (we don't stone folks for wearing mixed fabrics: that was an OT context for ancient Israel), understanding the original languages/history/culture, and understanding how Scripture supports itself are the keys to understanding and interpreting what the Bible says.

The problem becomes in situations like this one: you're certain that God's spirit has given you insight into a passage that, on the surface, does NOT jive with the precedence of scripture, and while I love you as a brother in Christ and as a fellow blogger, I really have to question the spiritual guidance you're getting on this one. Scripture, OT and NT, seems to speak loudly by precedence and example to the practice of public prayer - likewise I don't see where the practice is condemned (again, other than the aforementioned Matt. 6:6, but that speaks of loud, pretentious self-serving prayers, and not on genuine, edifying public prayers.)

FishHawk said...

"All of this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." {John 14:25-26}

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth. comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." {John 16:12-15 NIV}

Again, my dear Lavender, none of this is meant to lessen the significance of our Heavenly Father's Holy Bible in the least. For it does indeed contain the sum-total of His Holy Scriptures, and they were give to serve as written confirmation of what He wants to personally reveal unto us.