Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pages from a preacher's prayer book (1)

Each time I teach my students, I begin class with a brief meditation. As classes begin again this week, I thought I would post the first few to see if they help anyone else.

The prayer secret - joining in
Trying to keep up daily prayer used to make me feel guilty and tired. After all, Christian leaders are supposed to be good at disciplined praying and I knew I wasn’t. But, I had to learn that prayer isn’t about what I am good at. It’s all about what Jesus is good at. My prayer relationship with God does not depend on how much effort I put in, but on how willingly I join in with what Jesus is already doing.

This prayer secret breakthrough came when I realized that Jesus is not only risen and ascended in glory, but that he continues to pray for believers. He always intercedes with his Father for me and you. When I say at the end of a prayer –‘through Jesus Christ’ – it is because he has taken my prayers into his own and guarantees that they will be heard. This is an extraordinary claim – that Jesus keeps a prayer ministry going night and day for us.
Jesus holds his priesthood permanently because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebs 7:24,25.
It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Rom 8:34.

When Jesus tells us to go into a quiet place (Matt 6:6), close the door and pray to our Father who sees what is done in secret, we do not go on our own. It’s not a chore that needs gritted teeth. As we enter that place we discover that Jesus is already filling it with love, purpose and strength. He has been praying through the night before we begin. He greets us before we can get a word out. And when we leave to work and play no part of our lives is lived outside his prayer.

This is not to trivialize our holy God as though all that matters to him is my little life. How narcissistic! Never forget, he is awesome – a consuming fire (Heb: 12:20)- whom we can only approach “with a true heart in full assurance of faith”(Heb 10:22) because of Jesus’ sacrifice. But through Jesus we can join in and my little life does have significance. Our great God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and little me – together!

I now have a smile when I go into the quiet place. I open Scripture, write my prayer journal, offer prayers with joy because I know that he is Lord and he is good at prayer, when I am not, and he loves me, and he wants me to join in with him. I tell you, this secret has revolutionized my prayer life from being all my effort, to trusting into his.

Prayer: O Lord, I find it incredible that with all you have to do, Lord of Creation, that you are praying for me today, and inviting me to join in my prayers with you. I wonder again at your grace for me - Lord of heaven and earth, yet my Lord and my friend. Truly I do. I praise you and love you. Gladden my heart and lift my spirit that I shall know that nothing matters more than belonging to you, and help me to walk into the challenges of this day knowing that I can never walk outside your love and care. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Michael.

Anonymous said...

What a blessing and encouragement these thoughts are. Thank you for sharing this wonderful perspective!

How did your meeting go with the publisher?

Anonymous said...

Knowing that Christ is always interceding for us and expectantly wanting and watching for us as we approach him gives me the confidence to come. Nonetheless, I had not thought of these facts in this way, and this does impact my outlook. Joining with him in prayer is the difference for me, also focusing on his commitment is taking my eyes off myself, helping me to look to Christ's desire for me rather than thinking of my desires. I thank God this fresh perspective about prayer.

We all hope with Lori that your meeting went well. I believe this book would benefit many as Christ's words were so poignant; I know they pierced me to the heart.